So much for heeding official advice.
There was a witness at the scene of the confrontation -- Colin Bass -- about whom Bommersbach points out some troubling facts.
By then, passerby Colin Bass of Rimrock drove up, noted the open SUV door and thought the officer might need help. The police report from that night says this: “Bass said he drove by the police SUV and saw glass on the street. Bass said he then saw a police officer attempting to pull a female out of a vehicle…. Bass said Roberts was resisting and being combative.”
That was about all the original police report said about Bass, although his story would get more elaborate and suspicious: Bass, who claims to be a stranger to the officer, says that since Newnum had both hands busy pulling Roberts from the car, he took the flashlight from the officer’s belt, next to his gun, to signal any oncoming car. Even Newnum says a passerby “used my flashlight to assist in traffic control.”
OK, I’m not a police officer, but I know enough officers to know none of them would ever allow anyone to get near their weapon. (A veteran officer I know said this scenario is “absurd.”)
Eventually, Bass would embroider his story to back up the officer’s claim that this was a woman intentionally fleeing from a cop. Significantly, he would claim to hear her on her cell phone asking her husband how to get away – the same thing Sergeant Newnum testified he heard.
But the evidence shows this isn’t true.
First, Bass didn’t even arrive on the scene until the window was already smashed and the cell phone was in the gravel. Second, if Newnum couldn’t hear her “inaudible” screams through the closed window, how could he hear her cell phone conversation? But most significantly, cell phone records from that night show Dibor Roberts made no calls during the time of the altercation. Her husband’s cell phone records show he received no calls, either. Even Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh admitted records show there was “no attempt to call her husband or call 9-1-1.” (Regrettably, Roberts’ attorney didn’t even bring up the cell phone records during the trial. Duh.)
But curiously, Bass did testify to something everybody else wanted to deny. Both Newnum and his sheriff insisted there was no reason to believe Roberts didn’t know there was a legitimate cop trailing her – that she was just avoiding arrest. But Bass said he heard Dibor Roberts, again and again, telling the officer she “was trying to get to the lights.” He heard her repeatedly ask the officer, “Why are you doing this? I did what I was supposed to do.”
This makes Bass a most curious witness: He clearly lied to help the officer but also said the one thing the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office didn’t want anyone to believe – that this woman was only trying to get to a lighted area for her own safety.
The Phoenix piece comes at an important moment -- as Dibor Roberts and her husband Merrill try to recruit an attorney to appeal Dibor's sentence. The Roberts family doesn't have the $15,000-$25,000 they're being quoted, and have had no luck convincing an attorney to take the case pro bono.
That likely leaves Dibor Roberts with a felony conviction on her record -- and therefore unable to use the nursing degree toward which she has been working.
That is, unless sufficient publicity can swing support and funds in her direction.