Video shows current Durant police officer used questionable force during traffic stop

Published: Jul. 8, 2019 at 6:49 PM CDT
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Police dash cam video is raising questions over whether or not the Durant Police Department should have hired a former Iowa State Patrol trooper.

Last month, the I9 investigative team learned Durant Police Officer Robert Smith is the only peace officer in Cedar County with a "Giglio file." The contents of a Giglio file are secret and detail misconduct by a police officer, which may include instances of lying or using excessive force.

Only judges can look at Giglio files.

Smith joined the Durant Police Department in 2018 after retiring from the Iowa State Patrol. Around nine months before Smith left the state patrol he was involved in a traffic stop, where he can be seen in video obtained by I9 through an open records request with the Cedar County Attorney's office using a questionable amount of force before making an arrest.

The video was shot on the night of September 25th, 2017. It shows then-Trooper Smith turning on his lights and pulling over a then-20-year-old Bryce Yakish, of Davenport, near West Liberty.

Yakish can be seen quickly pulling off the road, which is quickly followed by a physical confrontation. Smith takes out his gun and then shoves Yakish to the ground by the head His bike is knocked over in the process.

You can hear Yakish in the video groaning in pain.

In court documents, Smith claimed Yakish tried to elude him even though he gave "a visual and audible signal to stop," The video does not confirm Smith's written version of events. Nevertheless, Yakish would be arrested for a felony charge of eluding a law enforcement vehicle.

Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington has also reviewed the footage and said this is one reason why he recently chose to stop booking people arrested by Durant police officers into his jail.

"It's absolutely wrong," Wethington said. "My opinion, Bob Smith should have been charged criminally."

Court documents show Cedar County Attorney Jeffrey Renander dropped the eluding charge because, in his words, it "more appropriately fits the facts alleged." Yakish eventually took a plea deal for reckless driving and had to pay a $250 fine plus court costs.

The Iowa State Patrol denied I9's request for the video explaining it was part of an investigative file. Records show the case was closed in December 2017.

I9 reached out to the Iowa State Patrol and Durant's police chief for comment about what we have uncovered but we have not heard back.