Deputy breaks 21 yr old’s arm…then arrests him
August 24, 2006
This all sounds too familiar.
Three friends- Oscar Gudbrandsson (Age 21, carpenter), James Jackson (Age 21, Waiter @ The Fish House) and John D. Howard (Age 21, Cook, Fire Mountain) – saw a friend of theirs at the Cabana Lounge on Tuesday night. She had obviously had too much to drink so they offer to drive her home (Crestview @ Oakleigh Apartments).
Howard drives her car. Jackson and Gudbrandsson follow. When they arrive at the apartment complex, the girl – Kat Atwater- jumps out of the car and starts vomiting in the grass by the car. Howard holds her hair back while Atwater is bending over.
Suddenly a guy comes charging Howard and Atwater – shining a flashlight in their eyes – shouting that Howard “Get the F#$# away from the girl.” Howard and the others try to explain what’s happening but the guy (dressed in gray shirt and khaki pants) keeps shouting obscenities.
Finally Howard pushes the flashlight away from his eyes. The man starts beating him with the flashlight, knocking the 21 year old to the ground. The man then starts yelling, “I’m going to arrest you for assault.”
Howard realizing that the man beating must be an law enforcement officer raises his arms – Escambia Co. Sheriff Deputy Aaron Mandell (the man with the flashlight) proceeds to jump on top of Howard and keep beating him until Howard was knocked unconscious.
Howard was taken to Baptist Hospital for treatment. His arm was broken and he had to have 16 stitiches on his head. He was then discharged and arrested for battery on a officer and resisting arrest.
In the arrest report: Mandell claims he was awaken by loud music and loud voices. He dawned his Sheriff’s Office issued hurricane uniform. He says he “hailed the people by flashing his light at them and announcing, ‘I am Deputy Mandell.'” And that he hailed several times as he walked towards them.
Mandell says he saw Gudbrandsson and Jackson talking loudly and that they appeared to be intoxicated (RO: Neither were charged for public drunkenness). He says he commanded them to leave the area or they would go to jail.
“At that time, I heard another male voice coming from the other side of the vehicle and then I observed a larger white (RO: The arrest report lists the ht and wt of Gudbrandson and Jackson, but not Howard – probably the injuries kept them from getting that info) male pop up from a bent over position. I observed the larger white male, later identified as John Damon Howard, standing over a smaller framed white female, later identified as Kathryn Atwater. Howard had both of his legs on either side of the female and was shouting down at her.
He began to yank her from the ground. She was positioned with most of her body from the female more than once. I told him to get back from the female and go back to his apartment. I also issued another command to the first two white males to go to the apartment or leave the area.
Howard bent over and yanked on Atwater with both hands. Atwater appeared to be in distress and not capable of freeing herself. It appeared I was witnessing an act of a violent domestic violence unfolding.
I told Howard he was under arrest and reached for him with my left hand while illuminating the area under the building light with my flashlight. Howard yelled, “F#$# (RO: my editing) you.”
Howard struck me in the face at least twice with his closed fist and tackled me, causing me to strike the ground with my back. I attempted a clavicle strike using my flashlight in a defensive motion.
Howard, however, was bigger and stronger and laid me flat on my back. I realized I could no longer keep the other two males in sight and Howard pressed his advantage, continuing the fight as I commanded him to put his hands behind his back. I began to fear for my life as I was outnumbered and Howard had me on the ground.
I could no longer make coordinated defensive strikes against Howard, but I made defensive strikes against Howard until I was able to free myself from his grasp. I rolled away from him and grabbed my radio, which was knocked from my person when I was tackled.
I took a position of advantage over Howard and started calling for backup. I located the two other white males and kept constant surveillance on all three subjects. I observed blood on me and Howard and I made a request for EMS. I maintained position until backup Deputy Tod Day #320 arrived.”
Howard has reportedly hire Barry Beroset as his attorney. Who will a jury believe?
Also, Howard is the son of the head of family residency at the Naval Hospital. He has no prior arrests. The arrest report does state that Atwater tried to tell the officers that Howard was “helping her, not hurting her.”