State takes over investigation into use of force by Superior police officer

By KBJR News 1

January 28, 2014 Updated Jan 28, 2014 at 7:40 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) - The Superior Police Department initially hired a defense and arrest tactics instructor to examine the squad car dash cam video, which caught part of the altercation between Superior Police Officer George Gothner and 28 year old Natasha Lancour outside the Keyport Lounge on January 5th.

According to Police Chief Charles LaGesse, the goal was to determine if Officer Gothner's use of force was excessive.

Then last week, anonymous cell phone video surfaced showing some of what happened when the altercation went beyond the reach of the dash cam.

"Now, in light of the additional video, and the obvious attention from media and from the community," said Chief LaGesse during Tuesday's announcement in Superior, "it's clear that we need the State of Wisconsin to be the investigating agency."

Chief LaGesse announced the videos, and all other information related to the case, will be passed onto the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation and Law for an unbiased view.

"After the completion of this investigation, and a review by the District Attorney or a special prosecutor appointed by him, we will share the results with the community in as timely of a manner as possible," added LaGesse.

Lancour's Attorney Richard Gondik says he commends the decision by the Superior Police Department.

"I was somewhat surprised [by] this, I had no idea it was coming," said Gondik, "but, I applaud that."

Lancour is scheduled to be in court on charges of assaulting an officer and resisting arrest on Friday—charges he hopes will be dropped.

"I'm just hopeful that the police department does the right thing, and goes to the District Attorney and says, 'look, this poor lady has suffered enough,'" said Gondik.

In the dash cam video, it appears officer Gothner drags Lancour across the parking lot and throws her, face down, on his squad car.
He then punches her in the face with a closed fist, a response he says in police reports that was prompted by her reaching up and scratching him on the face.

The struggle continues as Gothner and Lancour step to the side of the squad car, and that's where the anonymous video picks up.

"You can clearly see the blows being rained down on my client, unfortunately," said Gondik after reviewing the video.

Gondik says he should know if Lancour's charges will be dropped within the next 48 hours.

Officer Gothner remains employed, but has been placed on paid administrative leave.

The NAACP and members of the Duluth–Superior Community are expected to come together at the Douglas County Courthouse Wednesday at noon to protest what they call unjust criminal charges against Lancour.

Billy Wagness
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