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New documents shed light on Pocatello police assault case

A day after prosecutors released dashcam footage depicting Pocatello police officer Steven Westfall elbow a suspect in the head during a July 10 arrest, Local News 8 has obtained statements given to investigators by Westfall, the suspect and other officers.

According to the officers on scene, they had just escorted James Rutherford, 30, from the IRS office at the OMNI Building on Fifth Avenue and were attempting to search him.

The dashcam video shows Rutherford elbow one of the officers, at which point officers bend him over the hood of a patrol car.

Westfall, who’s standing behind the officers, walks around and pins Rutherfood’s head to the car. He can then be seen striking the left side of Rutherford’s face with his elbow, keeping his elbow in place for close to a minute.

Westfall told Idaho State Police investigators that he thought Rutherford had headbutted another officer, but that “he was not angry or upset … he just felt the need to control the suspect.”

But another officer told ISP he thought Westfall was upset. That same officer said of Westfall, he “didn’t want to hurt him (Rutherford), but he did make a mistake.”

In his statement, Rutherford said he recalls an officer striking him and then “grinding the side of his head” while telling him to stop resisting.

Rutherford also claims one of the other officers referred to him as a “fat [expletive],” and that as he was being escorted to the back of the patrol car, Westfall winked and smirked at him.

Rutherford was eventually charged with trespassing, resisting and obstructing. But even before July 10, he had an extensive criminal history dating back to 2009 with charges including disorderly conduct, battery, disturbing the peace and theft.

Friday afternoon, Westfall’s criminal case remained sealed. Local News 8 is told this is because a summons has yet to be returned.

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