Victor Madrigal, who was attacked in his Idaho Falls home by a thugscrum of the city’s “finest,” has been acquitted on charges of disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, and assault on an officer. Madrigal and his brother, Delosanto, were two of several people who were assaulted or otherwise terrorized in a police riot last Labor Day weekend during a child’s birthday party (a familiar setting for episodes of police violence here in Idaho).
Among the other victims were a pregnant woman who was shoved by Officer Clark Lund — the individual who provoked the violent melee (see the photo above) — and the Madrigal brothers’ 79-year-old mother, who was shoved by a police officer after seeing Delonsanto tasered in the living room of the family’s home.
Justifiably outraged by seeing his mother being battered by one of his captors, Victor — who was handcuffed and seated –reflexively sprang to his feet to come to her aid. In doing so, his head brushed against the arm of Officer Eric Rose, one of the consecrated beings who had invaded his home. That act, dishonestly described as “head-butting” the armed and armored aggressor, was the “offense” that gave rise to the “assaulting an officer” charge. The police also lied by claiming that Victor “grabbed” Rose’s arms, despite the fact that he was handcuffed at the time — something made clear by a cellphone video of the incident.
The police had arrived at about 11:00 PM following a complaint by a distant neighbor who had made it plain she didn’t like the Madrigal family. None of the next-door neighbors had expressed any concerns about the birthday celebration. The IFPD officers, led by Clark Lund, barged into the backyard of the Madrigal home (rather than knocking on the front door, like civilized people), then needlessly escalated a problem that could have been solved by a simple request.
When Victor — who described to me (and documented) several episodes of harassment by the Idaho Falls Police — was told he would be issued a citation, he expressed frustration over his treatment.
“If you don’t like it, you know how to leave,” sneered Lund, a remark that had unmistakable overtones of ethnic hostility. Lund then said he was leaving, and Victor said the officer was free to go. At that point, according to several witnesses, Lund called for backup, grabbed his Taser, turned back, and demanded Victor’s ID. When Victor moved to comply with that demand (which he was not legally required to do), Lund grunted; “You’re under arrest!” shoved a pregnant woman out of the way, strode into the living room, and tasered Delosanto — whose only offense was to be between Lund and his brother.
Local media accounts of the abduction of Victor and Delosanto carried the mugshots of two large, apparently angry black men and uncritically retailed the IFPD’s charge that they had “fought” with police. One of the family’s neighbors, upset with the misleading coverage, persuaded the Post-Register newspaper to do a follow-up story reflecting the victims’ perspective on the episode. That, in turn, prompted IFPD Chief Mark McBride to write a libelous op-ed for the Post-Register newspaper in which he retailed unsubstantiated gossip about the family from a conveniently anonymous “source.”
The local government-aligned media treated Chief MacBride’s puerile little screed as the last word on the matter. However, the story published in Pro Libertate was picked up by Joyln Thomas of East Idaho News, who gave it prominent and effective local coverage — and confronted a testy and impatient Chief McBride about it on the air.
Believing that it would be possible to bully the victims into compliance, Idaho Falls City Attorney Randy Fife offered Victor and Delosanto probation and a short stint in a cage in exchange for a guilty plea. When I interviewed Victor in his home last September, he pointed out that he had done nothing wrong, and promised that he wouldn’t accept a deal. In defiance of reasonable expectations, the jury in Idaho Falls was willing to admit the truth, rather than ratify the lies told by the IFPD. Delosanto’s trial is still pending, and there’s reason to hope the prosecutor will simply drop the matter, as he damn well should.
“I would say to people here that if they think they never have a chance to fight against IFPD, they can,” Victor told the Post-Register following his acquittal. “If I were to take a plea deal, I would do some probation, spend some time in jail and pay a fine for something I didn’t do. People think they are never going to win, but they can. Just look at me.”
(A quick postscript: This story was brought to my attention by LRC reader Tim Urling, who also very generously made arrangements for me to travel to Idaho Falls and interview the Madrigal family.)12:17 pm on February 12, 2014 Email William Norman Grigg