A Double Dose of Excessive Force in Shasta County

At about 1:00 p.m. on the afternoon of "June 12, 2002," Dusty Lane Rhoads, 40, of Tehama County, was sitting in his 1985 white Ford van with the air conditioner running, and with his 20 month old baby daughter, Faith Miranda Rhoads, sitting in a car seat beside him.  His wife, Kathy Ann Rhoads, 31, was inside the California Street Office of CalWorks in Redding, California, while Dusty and the baby waited in the parking lot. 

All of a sudden, with no warning, both van doors flew open and both Rhoads and the baby were pepper spayed.  Rhoads was faced with two unidentified plain clothed men, one with pepper spray, the other brandishing a gun.  This unannounced attack was by two men who failed to identify themselves, but were later identified as Officers Robert Curato and Forrester who are “Special Investigators” for the District Attorney (“DA”) of Shasta County. 

Rhoads, in fear for his baby’s life, not knowing who the men were, but rather believing he was being robbed or “car jacked,” put his van in gear and attempted to save his baby, who was now screaming, by driving away from this attack.  Later testimony in court estimated he never drove over 20 MPH. 

Rhoads’ first thought was to get his screaming and traumatized baby to a hospital.  Not being from Redding, and because the pepper spray was effecting his vision, Rhoads became lost ending up in a residential neighborhood where he spotted a sprinkler watering a lawn.  He stopped there and washed the pepper spray off the baby and then himself with the sprinkler.  At this time the police arrived and arrested Rhoads. 

Meanwhile, one of the DA Investigators entered the CalWorks Office where he confronted Kathy Rhoads, threatening her with arrest if she did not immediately tell him where they were living.  Forrester then transported her to the location where the police had arrested her husband, giving her the baby and the van.  Kathy then rushed the baby to her doctor at Seeley Medical in Red Bluff, where baby Faith was treated for pepper spray burns on her face and upper body. 

It seems that this attack and arrest, where Officers endangered baby Faith, was all over an unpaid Tehama county $618.00 traffic fine for diving on a suspended license.  However, now because Dusty Rhoads had removed his baby from harms way, of this unprovoked attack, by officers who failed to identify themselves while using excessive force, Rhoads is now facing a new felony charge of “Child Endangerment” and “Delaying a Peace Officer” a misdemeanor.  The Question is who really endangered the baby? 

Now, one would think this was enough of a bad day—right?  Now so!  They were just getting started: While being transported to the Shasta County Jail, the police officer began hitting Rhoads in the ribs with his elbow bruising him.  When they arrived at the jail at about 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon, Rhoads was placed in a holding cell where he was severely beaten, and then kicked after he was down by Shasta County Deputy Sheriff Terry Seals, and possibly other officers, who left him unconscious and bleeding on the floor. 

Rhoads woke up on the floor discovering his blood everywhere.  Seals moved him to Holding Cell #4, threw him a mattress on the floor, and then a blanket telling him to cover himself.  At some point in time, Rhoads woke up finding both eyes swollen shut so he couldn’t see.  He had baseball size swelling and a large bruise running across his entire face to behind his right ear.  Later, officers derogatorily referred to him as “Elephant Man.” 

At some point in time a sergeant discovered Rhoads had never been “Booked” into the Jail.  This was subsequently done, but all of the booking photographs which showed his battered face and body have now mysteriously disappeared.  Rhoads was then taken to the Jail’s Medical Unit where the escorting officers informed medical staff Rhoads’ wounds were “self-inflicted.”   Medical Staff ordered him placed in isolation in Administrative Segregation (3-C). 

On June 13, 2002, Rhoads was returned to the Jail Medical Unit and was seen by Nurse Practitioner Bob Miller (AKS “Dr. Bob”), who immediately ordered him to the Emergency Room at Redding Medical Center (“RMC”).  RMC doctors stated these are not self-inflicted wounds, these are “knuckle abrasions” from a severe beating.  The doctors then examined Rhoads’ own hands and knuckles determining there were no marks or signs of trauma to Rhoads’ fists.  A CAT Scan and X-Rays were performed, and after eight hours of examinations, it was determined Rhoads had a severe concussion among other injuries.  Rhoads was returned to the Jail where he was kept in the Medical Unit for three or four days.  During this time, officers took some Polaroid photographs of Rhoads.  These are also mysteriously “unavailable.” 

Because Rhoads eyes were so damaged he could not see, on June 14, 2002, Officer Lorraine Blankenship had to lead Rhoads to his 1:30 p.m. appearance in the Courtroom of Judge S. Jahr.  In court, Rhoads stated he had been beaten by officers, and Jahr admonished him not to say anything that could be used against you in a court of law. 

Rhoads court appointed attorney Jim Wilson of Redding, has subsequently filed a complaint with federal authorities, and requested Officer Terry Seals be placed on administrative leave pending completion of the investigation.  This report has been ignored by Jail officials, and Rhoads continues to be harassed and threatened by the implicated officers’ cronies.  This has been kept quiet all this time.  Another cover-up?? 

Tom Skraek


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