MCSO: Former inmate falsely reported assault by detention officers

Kolton Clark

Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

Kolton Clark

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by Jennifer Thomas

azfamily.com

Posted on August 3, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 3 at 4:55 PM

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County sheriff's detectives have submitted charges against a former inmate for false reporting to law enforcement officers.

The charges stem from reports that Kolton Clark, 18, had been assaulted by detention officers while incarcerated in the Fourth Avenue Jail in downtown Phoenix.

Clark was taken into custody in July on two counts of misdemeanor assault then released on a $200 bond shortly after being questioned.

Detectives began an investigation after receiving information that Clark's family was concerned that he had been beaten, tased and Maced by detention officers while inside an isolation safe cell at the jail.

According to MCSO spokesman Officer Christopher Hegstrom, a review of the surveillance video of Clark's time at the jail did not show any incident relating to a use of force by detention officers.

Hegstrom said recorded conversations between Clark and his mother indicate that he received the injuries during a physical dispute that he was involved in leading to his arrest and also that he was pepper sprayed by a security guard in his apartment complex.

Clark can be heard in recorded telephone conversations with his mother planning to use the assault story to "prove a point" and to "pull the racial card" against Sheriff Joe Arpaio in order to obtain a large monetary settlement, according to the sheriff's office.

At one point, Clark's mother told him that she had spoken to "high profile attorneys" who explained such a settlement may be worth as much as $4 million.

"We always take claims of abuse in our jails seriously and immediately conduct thorough investigations, but this is a prime example of what we are up against sometimes," said MCSO's Chief of Custody Mike Olson. "People often take advantage of what they hear in the media and exploit false public perceptions for personal financial gain and that is frustrating."

The sheriff's office submitted charges to the Maricopa County attorney's office on Thursday.  

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