Suspected Car Thief Says Officer Assaulted Him

SPOKANE — A suspected car thief claimed Thursday in a jailhouse interview that a veteran Spokane police officer kicked him while he was handcuffed and lying face down on the ground.

Twenty-two-year-old John Luna claimed that he was kicked in the jaw by the arresting officer.

“I was assaulted by a police officer while I was getting arrested,” Luna said. “One of them kicked me in the face.”

Luna, however, declined to talk about a vehicle and foot pursuit in a stolen car and what precipitated the alleged assault. 

“From what I understand, he was pretty vocal and insulting to officers,” Spokane Police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said.

Luna denied he was verbally abusive to the officers.

The arresting officer was Rob Boothe, a 14-year veteran of the force and an expert in defensive tactics. Officer Boothe is on paid administrative leave while Spokane Police Major Crimes Detectives are investigating the incident.

Luna says he’s looking to press charges against Boothe and wants him fired.

The incident happened on September 5th after a Spokane Police Department corporal witnessed a hit-and-run accident near Pittsburg and Empire in Spokane. A chase ensued and was handed over to Boothe and another officer to pursue the car – later identified as being stolen – driven by John Luna.

Luna rolled the stolen car and then took off running and Boothe and his fellow officer were able to catch up to and detain Luna. When he was taken into custody, in handcuffs and lying on his stomach, the alleged assault took place. The incident was witnessed by the second officer who was with Boothe and that officer reported the altercation to a supervisor.

“The officer that … made the allegation really took a chance at standing up and saying, ‘I don’t believe this is right.  I need to come forward with it,'” Officer DeRuwe said, adding that this incident has had an impact on the police force’s morale.