PSD readers are no doubt informed about the plight of Utah resident Mark Byrge. Mark used to own a courier company until, twenty seven months ago, his life was changed forever.
On April 18th, 2012, Mark had a minor traffic accident in American Fork, Utah where he scraped the box of his delivery truck against a tree. Within minutes of reporting the incident, officers Andres Gianfalice and Jennifer Nakai arrived on scene.
The accident quickly became a moot point as the officers realized Mark had an unpaid speeding ticket.
You can find the particulars of his ordeal here, but to make a long story short, Mark was permanently injured after police crushed his spinal cord stimulator. Though Mark informed the officers on multiple occasions that he was disabled and would require to be hand-cuffed in the front, they did not honor his request.
Throughout the ordeal, Mark was slammed, pushed, thrown to the ground and jumped on resulting in the malfunctioning of a $50,000 piece of hardware. Spinal Cord Stimulators (SCS) allow individuals to deal with limited mobility and moderate to sever back and leg pain, which in Mark’s case resulted from four back surgeries. They exert pulsed electrical signals to the spinal cord.
Check out local news coverage from the time of the incident:
For many, this is where the story would end. Not for Mark. Two years later, Mark continues to fight. Fully disabled and unable to make a living, Mark is pursuing a civil rights case against the AFPD. He is also a candidate for the Utah State Legislature, where he his running on a anti-police state platform.
“Believe me, I knew what a long shot this Campaign was the day I signed on to run on the Democratic ticket,” Mark told us recently. “I first thought this could be a great way to get the facts and evidence out regarding the corruption in the American Fork Police Department. Then, I started speaking to citizens. At yard sales, at grocery stores, and pretty much everywhere the opportunity presented itself. The one consistent answer I was receiving regardless of the age, gender, or income level was, ‘IT IS ABOUT TIME! YOU’VE GOT MY VOTE!’”
Mark spoke with Police State Daily earlier this month about his battle for justice, his ongoing health problems, and his campaign for State Rep., where he hopes to represent Utah’s 56th district after the November general elections. You can find that exclusive interview here.
Much to our chagrin, after conducting the interview with us, Mark’s lawyer dropped his case. “It is extremely hard to find an Attorney in Utah who will sue the Police without wanting a handsome toll of a retainer,” Mark said at the time.“I think I have found one of the best. He is a young and intelligent Attorney. He has a Master’s Degree in Law and I believe he is in it for the right reasons. I have to say however, that he does not like me giving these interviews.”
“He explained it to me like this,” Mark continued. “‘It is my job to make sure this City makes you whole. The only way they can, is by paying you. They are going to want as part of any settlement, your confidentiality.’ I have tried to explain that I understand that’s what they want, and that is something that may happen in the future. But in the meantime I have an obligation to society, my neighbors and the Citizens of American Fork to warn them and possibly prevent this officer from hurting someone else. I could not live with myself if I stay quiet and this officer injures or ruins someone else’s life.”
We can tell you from our many conversations with Mark Byrge that this is the kind of guy he is. His desire for accountability and public awareness greatly outweighs his desire to be compensated for his assault by American Fork Police. That is quite significant considering the outrageous health problems that have resulted from the ordeal, including the onset of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. This is an extremely painful syndrome that strong evidence shows is incurable.
“My pain is tantamount to someone sneaking up and shoving a red hot razor blade under my toenail.” Marks says. My SCS(Spinal Cord Stimulator) used to trick my mind into not feeling this pain. Unfortunately for me, the pain is back. But it is no longer just in my big toe. The C.R.P.S has consumed my whole right foot.”
C.R.P.S., as reported on the scale that Doctors use to assess pain, is 42 points out of 50 – 50 being the worst pain imaginable. It is ranked higher on the scale than CHILD BIRTH & LIMB AMPUTATION. Mark says it is relentless and never stops.
While writing this report, which was originally supposed to be a plea for health, campaign, and legal funding after Marks lawyer dropped him, we learned that Mark was arrested again Monday by the American Fork Police Department.
This is interesting as Mark has previously described to us the intimidation tactics initiated against him on part of the Department saying that officers had visited his home and threatened him by insinuating that if he continued pursuing action against them that “things would not go well for him.”
Mark had planned to reign in the abuses of police in his district by promoting Citizen Oversight Committees. “I am pushing for Citizen Oversight Committees to be responsible for the video produced by each officers own recording device,” Mark told us, referencing the fact that the American Fork Police Department was first in the nation to implement the VIDMIC back in 2007. The VIDMIC looks like an average shoulder radio but includes a 5.1 mega-pixel still camera and digital video recorder. Consequently, no footage was captured during Marks 2012 incident with police. Not only did the officers VIDMICs “malfunction,” but their dashcam video recorder did as well.
“They will hold the recordings for the period of time that would match the statute of Limitation of possible complaints,” Mark affirmed in our recent interview, outlining his plan to implement Citizen Oversight Committees. “The committee would also be responsible for deciding if complaints warrant charges, and the City Attorney would ultimately prosecute what cases the committee chooses to refer. In the event there are no complaints, the Committees will review recordings of officers shifts to make sure they are doing their job properly. If they find the officer is not, he or she will be responsible for the hours they were paid to be working.”
It is not yet clear whether Marks most recent arrest, or the activities of police leading up to it, were politically motivated or not. The claims of police DO appear to be quite damning. Mark is being held in the Utah County Jail on a $100,000 bond for three counts of distribution of a controlled substance and two counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person.
According to American Fork Police, two outstanding arrest warrants were also served regarding an alleged aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony; aggravated assault, a third-degree felony; and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony.
In court records, police say Mark attacked a man, who was treated at a hospital for large cuts on his face and the back of his head. Police allege that Mark and the man had been exchanging threatening text messages over money. Records show Mark contends the dispute was over an outstanding loan. Police maintain the text messages indicate Mark was demanding payment for prescription pain killers. Police say Mark pistol whipped and hit the man with his cane.
Police also say confidential informants were sent to Mark’s house on two separate occasions, and successfully purchased prescription drugs, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court. Officers also say they watched another woman go to Mark’s door during one of those incidences and make a purchase, the affidavit says.
Mark ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination to represent Utah’s 56th district in the June 24 primary. He had hoped to take on Republican Incumbent Kay Christofferson in the November 4 general election, where he may still compete if not convicted.
Utah law allows someone convicted of a felony to hold office 10 years after their conviction.