EPD Responds & Disputes Man's Claim of Excessive Force

Two drastically different accounts emerge from an incident over the weekend in Evansville. A man claims to have been the victim of excessive force but Evansville Police say the evidence shows those claims are false and unsubstantiated.<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br>
Two drastically different accounts emerge from an incident over the weekend in Evansville. A man claims to have been the victim of excessive force but Evansville Police say the evidence shows those claims are false and unsubstantiated.

By all indications, Robert Evidon is a well liked figure of Evansville's arts community. That's why his Facebook post detailing what he says happened early Sunday morning picked up so much traction.

Evansville Police fired back on Monday and said Evidon's account left out some crucial details and goes against what the evidence shows.

***

It was a weekend meant to honor Evansville's newest sculptures. But the day after, it's the controversy that's building.

"We've said in other cases, when we're wrong, we're wrong," said EPD Sgt. Jason Cullum. "In this case, we're not wrong."

In a Facebook post written after his arrest, Robert Evidon claims otherwise. Evidon was arrested early Sunday morning near Haynie's Corner on resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public intoxication charges.

Evidon, however, claims he was the victim of excessive force. Evidon was running the soundboard for the Sculpt EVV concert that night. Records show, EPD Officer Todd Mattingly, a seven year veteran of the department, was dispatched to the concert after neighbors called to complain about the noise.

In his post, Evidon claims Officer Mattingly only talked to him once.

"I told him I would go on stage and stop the band, [Officer Mattingly] said no, pull the plug right now on electricity [sic] or I will write a ticket to everyone here on the corner," Evidon said in his post.

Police records tell a different story. According to the affidavit of probable cause, Officer Mattingly was dispatched to the concert not once but twice. Both times, according to the affidavit, Officer Mattingly only asked Evidon to turn the music down because the concert's noise permit had expired.

"This was a simple call that should have been easy to take care of," Sgt. Cullum said. "But based on the actions of Mr. Evidon the situation escalated."

The situation escalated into an arrest and the use of force.

According to the affidavit, Evidon was agitated, annoyed and began using vulgarities toward Officer Mattingly when he approached Evidon the second time. Because of Evidon's alleged abusive behavior and intoxication, Officer Mattingly attempted to arrest Evidon for disorderly conduct which led to a struggle, according to the affidavit. Evidon also reportedly claimed to have been up for two straight days prior to the altercation.

After the struggle continued, Officer Mattingly used an 'arm bar take-down' on Mattingly in order to get him into custody, according to the affidavit.

After the incident, Officer Mattingly and his supervisor talked with Evidon who stated he was very sorry and seemed extremely apologetic, according to the affidavit.

Evidon tells a different story in his now viral Facebook post. Evidon claims Officer Mattingly punched him in the face without warning and proceeded to beat his head into the pavement. Evidon also claims Mattingly punched him 30 times in the head.

"[Evidon] was very specific in his claims," Sgt. Cullum said. "It doesn't take too much more than looking at his booking photo that was taken that night to question the claims he had his head banged on the pavement and was struck in the head thirty times."

What you can't see, Evidon says, are the injuries to the back of his head. Evidon claims he suffered extensive injuries to his head and neck as a result of the incident. However, Evansville Police say hospital records show Evidon only suffered 'road rash' to his back. Those injuries are consistent with an arrest and the fact Evidon wasn't wearing a shirt at the time of the arrest.

Once at the hospital, Evidon claims Officer Mattingly took pictures of him and otherwise mocked him. Evansville Police dispute those claims as well. Officer Mattingly has offered to submit his phone for forensic examination in order to further exonorate himself, according to Sgt. Cullum.

In this case of conflicting stories, Sgt. Cullum says it should have never reached this point.

"No doubt in my mind that 99.9% of the time if Mr. Mattingly were to talk to Mr. Evidon, it'd be a casual conversation with no issues," Sgt. Cullum said. "But this one instance didn't go as probably neither one of them would have liked."

Despite expressing interest in speaking on camera, Evidon elected not to because of advice from his attorney. Evidon's next court appearance is scheduled for July.

Sgt. Cullum says Officer Mattingly has not been place on administrative leave and no formal complaint has been filed with EPD's Internal Affairs Division.

This is Evidon's post in it's entirety followed by EPD's response.

FoxFire here, wanted to let everyone know I am home now and my son on fathers day is helping me nurse my wounds. Team Fly was hired by USI to provide Sculpt EVV with a security watch all night Friday and Hired to set up and produce the stage, lights & sound & fire show for the full day event on Haynies Corner. Our permit was for until Midnight. Our fire show had just ended and Phoenix Down was finishing last song. at 12:08 Officer Mattingly was dispatched to Haynies Corner and asked that we stop the music and our permit was over at 11pm which he was incorrect about. I told him I would go on stage and stop the band, he said no pull the plug right now on electricity or I will write a ticket to everyone here on the corner, I asked him to chill out for a minute while I take care of powering down all the amps properly, then Officer Mattingly proceeded to punch me in the face and threw me on the ground and continued to punch me in the face and legs and back, I never resisted and just kept saying to the officer "I am not resisting" the whole time he was yelling at me to stop resisting, I was just limp and trying to follow directions as the officer continued to beat my head on the pavement and punch me in the back of the head at least 30 times. I was arrested for resisting arrest and taken to the hospital to check out my extensive head & shoulder injuries. The whole time while in hospital, officer Mattingly had me tightly cuffed to the bed and was taunting me for 2 hours. When we arrived at the hospital he told the police officer on staff at hospital quote "I just beat up a hippie on Haynies corner and there were all whole bunch more there, I wanted to taze them, my trigger finger has been itchy lately" then he looked at me and said I know where you live and what you drive, your kind are not welcome here. His brother who is not a police officer was ridding in the vehicle the whole time during this and while in the hospital his brother was taking pictures of me cuffed to the hospital bed, I kindly asked them to stop taunting me and taking my picture but I was completely ignored. I was booked into Vanderburgh county jail and was released today on bail. I have a 1:30pm court date tomorrow Monday June 17th. There were many witnesses and we are asking anyone who witnessed the event and/or took pictures and video to contact us immediately so we can use this evidence to clear any charges against me and to possibly look into suing the city for the huge medical expenses I incurred and damages for missed work due to injuries that may take a while to heal. Thank you for your help... LOL Team Fly...

EPD's Response

Mr. Evidon claims that Officer Todd Mattingly used excessive force while arresting him at the Script EVV live concert around 12:15 on Sunday morning. His post gives very specific details about Officer Mattingly's actions and he lists his injuries as extensive.
In his post, Mr. Evidon fails to mention the 1st contact that Officer Mattingly had with him. During that contact, Officer Mattingly explained to him that a neighbor was complaining that the music was loud. Officer Mattingly explained to Mr. Evidon that all he needed was for him to turn down the volume. Mr. Evidon told Officer Mattingly that the band only had one more song and that the show would be over. Officer Mattingly agreed to let the band continue, even though a neighbor had complained and the event permit had expired at midnight. Officer Mattingly then returned to his car. Before he was able to leave the area, he was given a second dispatch to the same complaint. He then made his 2nd contact with Mr. Evidon.
During the 2nd contact, Officer Mattingly repeated his request for Mr. Evidon to lower the volume. He also explained that if he did not turn down the volume, he would be subject to a ticket for violating the disorderly conduct law. Mr. Evidon, who was intoxicated, then became belligerent and verbally abusive. Mr. Evidon continually used the "F" word when yelling at Officer Mattingly and refused to turn down the music. Officer Mattingly then tried to arrest Mr. Evidon for Public Intoxication, he refused to comply with officer Mattingly's verbal instructions to turn around and put his hands behind his back. When Officer Mattingly took Mr. Evidon by the arm to handcuff him, Mr. Evidon began to physically resist arrest. Officer Mattingly tried to get compliance while the two were standing, but Mr. Evidon would not comply with the instructions. Officer Mattingly used an "arm bar" to take Mr. Evidon down to the ground. Officer Mattingly then used his body weight to control Mr. Evidon's movements and was able to handcuff him.
Depite Mr. Evidon's claims on Facebook, Officer Mattingly NEVER struck him with any type of impact weapon, hands, fist, knees, feet, or other object during the arrest. Nor did Officer Mattingly "continually bang" Mr. Evidon's head on the pavement. Mr. Evidon was taken to the hospital at his own request before going to jail. He was treated for a small abrasion on his shoulder. That injury is consistent with the facts that he resisted while on a paved surface and was not wearing a shirt at the time. His claims that his picture was taken while at the hospital are also false. A forensic review of any devices that were in his hospital room at the time will prove that.
Mr. Evidon also claimed to have been punched in the face, the legs, his back, and punched 30 times in the head while he was on the ground. Again, Officer Mattingly NEVER struck Mr. Evidon during the arrest. The booking photo taken after his arrest shows him with NO facial marks, abrasions, bruises, or any other type of injury consistent with his claims of being struck dozens of times with a fist and having his head bang on a paved surface.
There have not been any pictures, videos, or other information brought forward to support Mr. Evidon's claims. The information that IS available contradicts his claims and supports the information included in Officer Mattingly's Sworn Affidavit of Probable cause and his Use of Force report.
We are asking anyone with any images of the arrest to please bring them forward. You can do that by any means you see fit. Because the claims made by Mr. Evidon do not appear to accurately reflect the events of Sunday morning, Officer Mattingly remains on normal duty.
We appreciate those who have not been so quick to condemn Officer Mattingly based solely on the post of the person who was not happy about being arrested.
Mr. Evidon will have his day in court. As for now, we support the lawful actions of Officer Mattingly and will continue to review any information that comes to our attention regarding this incident.
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