Trooper arrest under investigation after YouTube shove

khopkins@adn.comMay 1, 2013 

Skyler Irene Waite confronts Kodiak trooper Brian Mitchell.

YOUTUBE

Col. Keith Mallard, head of the Alaska State Troopers, learned about the viral video of his officers when someone sent a private message to the official trooper Facebook account.

The 11-minute, 20-second YouTube clip shows a trooper arguing with a young woman in her home Monday night in Kodiak. As the trooper moves to leave, the woman, 20-year-old Skyler Irene Waite, moves behind him.

Waite later said she was reaching for the door. In the video, the trooper turns and shoves Waite backward. His partner sweeps her leg and she is forced, kicking and yelling, into a trooper SUV, demanding to know why she is being arrested.

Mallard said troopers have asked the Office of Professional Standards, an agency that conducts investigations within the Department of Public Safety, to review the encounter. Such investigations are usual when a complaint is made against a trooper, he said.

"We jumped right on that to have them look into that incident," he said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The two troopers, Brian Mitchell and Boyd Branch, have not been placed on administrative leave and the results of the inquiry might never be made public, Mallard said.

For now the troopers face trial by YouTube.

A 15-year-old filmed the encounter on her iPod or iPhone and uploaded the clip that night under the title "Young woman arrested for nothing." By Wednesday evening, the video had been viewed more 21,000 times and traded and debated countless times on Facebook.

"It got a lot bigger than we ever anticipated," said Dennis Carlsen, who lives at the trailer, on Rezanof Drive, with his wife, two children and Waite, his son's girlfriend.

The trouble started with a 911 call reporting a medical emergency at the home involving someone "who had swallowed an unknown number of pills," Trooper Mitchell wrote in an affidavit.

Mitchell arrived minutes later, he wrote. Medics were at the front door, talking to Eileen Carlsen, Dennis's wife. Eileen agreed to talk to the trooper inside the home and told him she didn't need a doctor, Mitchell wrote. The trooper searched the home and spotted a small amount of marijuana.

The Carlsens' daughter, Sarah, started filming. In the clip, Waite can be seen loudly arguing with the trooper and refusing to answer questions. She says he shouldn't assume she smokes pot just because he saw some in the home.

"Just because you have a gun, can I assume you shoot people?" she asks as the Travel Channel's "Man v. Food" blares on a TV in the background.

"If the need arises," one of the troopers says.

Having marijuana in a home with young children and a felon isn't a smart idea, Trooper Branch says. Mitchell asks whose pot it is. The marijuana could be trouble for Eileen Carlsen, who was on felony probation, he says.

Mitchell wrote that he pushed Waite because he feared for his safety.

"Out of the corner of my eye I saw her reaching her left arm around me which I considered a prelude to a physical assault. I immediately shoved her away to create a distance between us."

Waite was charged with fourth-degree assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. She spent the night in jail and paid $100 bail, Dennis Carlsen said.

Carlsen said the troopers did not seize the marijuana. He declined to say to whom it belonged.

Carlsen said Waite was only trying to close the door when the trooper pushed her. "In my opinion, he was not an officer of the law. He was just a man assaulting the woman."

The trooper chief said the video only tells part of the story, from a single angle. He declined to comment on the troopers' actions, or Waite's actions, based on the video alone.

"It's fair and just to wait until we've gathered all the facts," he said.

They already have the video.

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