Posted: Jan 14, 2013 3:07 PM by Erin Schattauer
Updated: Jan 14, 2013 3:20 PM
BOZEMAN - A charge was dismissed against a former Gallatin County sheriff's deputy who was captured on tape grabbing a handcuffed 17-year-old girl by the throat and pushing her against a wall.
Thomas Madsen was charged with mistreating a prisoner. He was set to go to trial, but a few weeks ago his attorney filed a motion saying that the charge should be dismissed because the girl didn't meet the definition of a prisoner under state law.
"Madsen asserts that, while (the teen) may have been in ‘custody' of law enforcement, she was not a ‘prisoner,'" court papers state.
Gallatin County Judge Holly Brown agreed and dismissed the information charging Madsen with mistreating a prisoner.
"Madsen is correct that a review of the MCA reveals that the word ‘prisoner' typically is used by the Legislature to refer to a person who has been convicted and is serving a sentence in a penal institution or other correctional facility," Brown wrote in her decision.
While the charge has been dismissed, the case remains active in Gallatin County District Court.
The incident dates back to February 2011, when a lieutenant with the department contacted the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigations to report the incident. An agent from the DCI reported in court documents that the video from Feb. 9 shows a 17-year-old girl handcuffed to a belly belt, which prevents her hands from moving away from her waist. The video goes dark as if they lights have been turned off and then the lights come back on.
"You turn the lights off, you're gonna find yourself in a whole world of hurt, girl...Understand?" Madsen is heard saying on the video, according to court documents.
"No," the girl replies.
The conversation continues and the Madsen reportedly tells the girl to sit down. When she says "no" Madsen enters the room, grabs her by the throat and pushes her backwards against the wall, according to court documents. The video shows Madsen "tightly gripping" the girl's neck, and the initial contact has such force that her hair is "momentarily extended due to the rapid movement," court documents state.
Bozeman police Sgt. Colton Schumacher is then seen entering the room and reaching "calmly" between Madsen and the girl, documents state.
During an interview with the DCI agent, the girl says she was at the Law and Justice Center on Feb. 9 because she was being detained as a runaway. She also told the agent that in January 2011 she was detained at the Law and Justice Center and tried to knee Madsen to get away from law enforcement.
Madsen reportedly told the agent that he never intended to hurt the girl when he grabbed her, but "intended to scare her into complying and get her attention."
Madsen resigned from the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department in March 2011.
- Photo of Madsen from an earlier court hearing