‘A handcuffed person is still a threat,’ defense says as trial starts for ex-Antioch cop charged with ‘viciously assaulting’ handcuffed man

PITTSBURG — In what has become the first criminal trial involving the scandal-plagued Antioch police department, jurors will soon decide the fate of a former officer charged with a misdemeanor for punching and kicking a handcuffed man during a 2022 arrest.

At the start of the misdemeanor assault trial for ex-Officer Matthew Nutt, jurors heard divergent views of the July 1, 2021 traffic stop where Nutt punched, kicked, and kneed an East Bay man named Terry Robinson 16 times within 32 seconds while arresting Robinson for a felony warrant in Santa Cruz County. Robinson was handcuffed and halfway into the back of a police SUV, but had hooked his leg on the door and was pushing back as three officers attempted to corral him in.

Nutt, the only officer to use force that day, “viciously assaulted” Robinson while he was cuffed and “utterly defenseless,” Assistant District Attorney Simon O’Connell told jurors in his opening statement Tuesday morning.

“This is not a man escaping. This is not a man fighting. This is a man who is cornered and being beaten by a police officer,” O’Connell said. “This is unlawful. This is unnecessary. This is unjustified. And this is a crime.”

Nutt was with two other officers that day, Sgt. Joshua Evans and Officer Dustin Dibble. Evans would later find himself in hot water that resulted with his ouster from the department, after revelations that he’d used the N-word and referred to himself as a “racist” cop in text messages to colleagues.

But it was Evans who, after the incident, reviewed body camera footage of Nutt’s actions, thought, “this does not look good,” and referred the case to internal affairs, according to police reports.

A third-party firm investigated the incident and found Nutt liable for multiple use-of-force policy violations. He was later fired, and the case was referred to the Contra Costa District Attorney, resulting in the misdemeanor charge.

Nutt, a Southern California native, joined the Antioch police department in 2019 after spending roughly 18 months on patrol in the Los Angeles Police Department. He graduated from the LAPD academy in 2016 and before that was a United States Marine.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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