Woman uses social media to accuse the police of sexual assault; roll the tape, please

By Joe Vargas

On June 22, 2017, Burlington, Vt. police officers found Logan Huysman and two of her friends passed out in a running vehicle. According to police accounts, the officers spent four minutes trying to rouse them.

Passed-out people in a running car is never really a good idea.

After rousing the occupants, including Ms. Huysman, the officers tried to get family members to pick them up. But Huysman just wouldn’t have it that way.

Her behavior became so disruptive the officers decided to arrest her. She wasn’t happy about that. Almost immediately after her release, Ms. Huysman decided to take to social media and vent. In the process, she accused the officers of police brutality and sexual assault.

Screen capture of the Facebook post by Logan Huysman accusing Burlington Police Officers Ngyuen and Lippa of assaulting her.

Her posting, which included pictures of bruises on her arms, immediately got some traction and caught the attention of the news media and Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo.

WCAX in Burlington did an interview with Ms. Huysman in which she continued her rant about how she was treated. During the interview, she admits she wouldn’t stand still, kept moving and argued about the officers taking the $80 bong she had just purchased.

Chief Del Pozo responded, as all police chiefs should, that an investigation was ongoing and as soon as the state prosecutor signed off he would release the video.

The chief did just that. He not only released it but did so by posting directly to Ms. Huysman’s Facebook page. This, in turn, generated a huge response critical of her behavior. She has since deleted her post.

The officers’ body camera footage shows her being belligerent, taunting and frankly just downright embarrassing.

The officers were more patient than a lot of officers would have been. They tried to deescalate, reason and even said “please” numerous times — none of which worked. Eventually, when she is handcuffed, Ms. Huysman manages to mule-kick one of the officers.

The incident has garnered a lot of attention not only for Ms. Huysman’s tenacity but also for Chief del Pozo’s response.

Some critics felt as a public official and a police chief, by posting directly on Ms. Huysman’s Facebook that constituted threatening behavior.

Apparently, when someone besmirches your organization’s reputation you’re not supposed to call them on it. Or, in this case, show the video and let people come to their own conclusion.

Here’s what the ACLU had to say about the Chief’s response: “There’s a fine line between engaging the community, which is something we want our law enforcement officers to do, and doing what some might see as trying to shut down conversations,” said Jay Diaz, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont. “Affirmatively posting on a citizen’s Facebook page, especially in a sensitive situation, seems fairly inappropriate and would be understandably chilling.”

Chief del Pozo made no threats or accusations. He simple showed the world what was captured on body camera footage. I’m sure his officers appreciated his efforts to dispel the blatantly false narrative.

Had Chief del Pozo not immediately responded, how much damage would have been done by Ms. Huysman’s unvetted posting?

Social media is a great tool for law enforcement to connect with communities. But I guess some people feel there should be limits when the truth hurts.

Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at jvargas@behindthebadgeoc.com