Report of ‘Drug House’ Leads Casper PD to Arrest Man; Family Criticizes Use of Force
Casper police arrested a man on a warrant Tuesday afternoon, and the man's family has taken to social media to criticize the officers' use of force.
Christopher Benson, 47, was booked into jail on the warrant and a new charge of interference. He will likely make his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
According to the police affidavit, an officer was in the area of Eighth and Beverly Streets at about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday when he was flagged down by a woman who claimed a home on East 10th Street, where Benson lived, was a 'drug house.'
The officer called another officer to assist, and three officers ended up going to the house. Two knocked on the front door while a third officer stood at the rear of the home.
After several knocks, Benson answered the door. Police say he stood halfway behind the door, concealing his left hand.
Police told Benson he needed to step outside to speak with officers, but Benson allegedly refused. An officer again told Benson he needed to step outside, but Benson reportedly said he would not do so.
An officer then told Benson he had an active arrest warrant, and again told Benson to step out of the house. Benson reportedly said, "No."
Two officers then placed hands on Benson, the affidavit says, in an attempt to get him out of the house. Benson allegedly grabbed the door jam and refused to show his left hand to officers, despite several verbal commands to show his hands.
Officers struggled to get Benson, who had wedged himself into the door jam, out of the house.
An officer "delivered a strike" to Benson in an effort to get him to release his grip and show his hands. At that point, Benson allegedly kicked that officer in the groin area.
The officer then delivered additional strikes until Benson released his grip and could be taken to the ground in the front yard. Benson reportedly continued to struggle with officers on the ground, allegedly ignoring commands to cooperate.
Officers eventually wrestled Benson into handcuffs.
Benson's right pinkie finger was visibly injured, and medical workers were asked to respond. EMS said Benson would need medical attention.
Benson's daughter then arrived at the scene and told EMS that Benson suffered from undisclosed medical conditions.
An ambulance took Benson to Wyoming Medical Center, where he was treated and medically cleared before being booked into jail.
Court documents make no mention of police finding any drugs or other contraband in Benson's house.
In the wake of the arrest, Benson's son, Lazarus Benson, took to social media to criticize officers' use of force.
"They punched a Disabled man in the head and knock him unconscious. They also kicked him while he was down along with dislocating his finger," Benson's son said in a Facebook post.
"I get detaining someone, but it should be done with the correct procedures, and not in a unlawful way. This is why we need body Cameras, so we know what kind of officers we have," Benson's son continued.
Police say the arrest was lawful, and the situation was not handled inappropriately.
"The officers responded there for a lawful purpose, they informed Benson that he had a warrant. He refused to come out of the house," Patrol Sgt. Ryan Dabney told K2 Radio News on Wednesday.
Dabney said it became a matter of officer safety, as they could not see one of Benson's hands. Benson, Dabney emphasized, was noncompliant and combative.
"At times, people do get injured," Dabney explained. He described the arrest as "nothing more than normal business, really."
Dabney added that the officer who was kicked in the groin did complain of injury afterward, though the extent of that injury is privileged information.
The warrant, Dabney said, was issued at the order of a Natrona County District Court judge after Benson allegedly failed to appear for a court hearing.
Lazarus Benson said his father suffers from seizures, and police should have handled the incident differently.