Westfall

In this still from a police car video, Detective Steven Westfall, far left, is shown raising his elbow and bringing it down on the left side of James Rutherford’s head and face during an attempt to search the suspect outside the Omni Building, 275 S. Fifth, on July 10. 

 

POCATELLO — Detective Steven Westfall, a nine-year veteran of the Pocatello Police Department, resigned from his position Tuesday. 

Westfall was charged with unnecessary assault by a police officer last month and is due back in court Thursday.

James Rutherford, the man Westfall is charged with assaulting, said the detective’s resignation comes as good news to him.

“I’m glad that he won’t be out on the street doing this to anyone else,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford said he’s retained an attorney and has not ruled out taking civil action against Westfall. 

But first, Rutherford said, he has to face the charges that resulted from the July 10 incident. He was cited for trespass and resisting arrest.

“I believe that the video from the building is going to show that I was cooperating,” Rutherford said. “I just wanted to record the incident.”

He came contact with Westfall after Rutherford refused to submit to a search and was asked to leave the IRS office in the Omni Building.

The security guard notified Pocatello police, who responded and escorted Rutherford out of the building. He claims that he was placed under arrest when he attempted to record the incident using his cellphone. 

Video from a police dashboard camera shows Westfall coming down hard on Rutherford’s head with his elbow. 

Rutherford was handcuffed, bent over the front of police cruiser and in the custody of at least two officers when Westfall struck him.

Rutherford was arrested and transported to Bannock County Jail, then to Portneuf Medical Center before he was returned to the county jail. After posting a $600 bond in the case and being released, Rutherford immediately filed a complaint against Westfall. 

Westfall, who last week pleaded not guilty to the charge against him, has not commented publicly about the incident.

But last month, Westfall’s attorney, James Ruchti of Pocatello, said his client believed that Rutherford had head-butted one of the other officers when he reacted and struck him.

Westfall was placed on paid administrative leave last month, and the Fraternal Order of Police Local 13 is paying for Westfall’s legal costs.

Ruchti said Westfall’s resignation will not affect the case against him, and he said he was not aware of any settlement agreement.

Pocatello Police Chief Scott Marchand said Westfall submitted his resignation to the city’s Human Resources Department and the chief also declined to comment about a possible settlement or severance package calling it a personnel matter.