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Wassillie Gregory

Other Alaska Cases
Shortly before 9 a.m. on July 12, 2014, a police officer pulled his squad car up next to 48-year-old Wassillie Gregory, an Alaskan native, as he walked in the parking lot of a store in Bethel, Alaska.

A witness later said that the officer, 27-year-old Andrew Reid, conversed briefly with Gregory and then got out of the police car. Reid grabbed Gregory’s arm, threw him face down onto the pavement and tried to handcuff him. The witness, Linda Green, an associate professor from the University of Arizona doing seasonal research on the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, said Reid picked up Gregory from his backpack and waistband about three feet into the air and slammed him to the pavement—repeatedly—before spraying Gregory’s face with pepper spray.

Reid arrested Gregory on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and second-degree harassment. Reid said that Gregory was “clearly intoxicated” and made verbal threats to Reid. In his report, Reid said Gregory challenged him to a fight and that he feared Gregory might be grabbing for a weapon (no weapon was found).

Reid reported, “I kindly tried to assist Gregory into my cruiser for protective custody when he pulled away and clawed at me with his hand.”

Two days later, Gregory, who had been treated at a hospital for a dislocated shoulder that ultimately required surgery, appeared in court without a lawyer. He pled guilty to second-degree harassment and was sentenced to 45 days in jail, although the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation and ordered to undergo anger management counselling.

Green filed a brutality complaint with the Bethel police department and in August 2014, Bethel city officials received a video of Green’s encounter with Officer Reid that was recorded on a security camera operated by the Alaska Commercial Co. store to monitor the store’s parking lot. In the video, which has no sound, Reid could be seen repeatedly picking Gregory up and slamming him to the pavement—even after Gregory was handcuffed.

In March, 2015, attorney Sean Brown, who was then representing Gregory, viewed a copy of the video. By that time, Reid had been fired from the Bethel police force. In April 2015, Brown filed a motion to vacate Gregory’s conviction and dismiss the case.

On May 8, 2015, Brown filed a civil lawsuit on Gregory’s behalf against Reid and the city of Bethel. On May 11, 2015, Gregory’s conviction was vacated and the charge was dismissed by the prosecution. On May 20, the lawsuit was settled for $175,000, of which $80,000 was for medical expenses.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/26/2015
Last Updated: 6/1/2015
Most Serious Crime:Harassment
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2014
Race/Ethnicity:Native American
Age at the date of reported crime:48
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No