'They brutalized me': Disabled North Carolina veteran calls on police to release video of his arrest

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Monday, July 11, 2022
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Charges have been dropped against a disabled veteran arrested in 2021 in Gastonia.

GASTONIA, N.C. (WTVD) -- Charges have been dropped against a disabled veteran arrested in 2021 in Gastonia.

The veteran, Joshua Rohrer, said he now wants body camera footage from the incident released and the officers involved fired.

Rohrer was with his service dog, Sunshine, near a shopping center in Gastonia last October when the arrest happened.

"I re-live it everyday in my head, so yes it seems like it was yesterday," Rohrer said in an interview with a local news station in Charlotte.

Someone called the police on Rohrer, who was homeless at the time and living out of a tent. When officers arrived, they asked him for some identification and he gave them his military ID.

He said that's when the situation escalated.

"(They) grabbed me by my wrist and slammed me forward on the hood of the car. They brutalized me. I'm screaming for help," Rohrer recalled.

According to Rohrer, Sunshine then jumped on the hood of the police cruiser and an officer shot her with a stun gun.

"I screamed. Sunshine yelped and started crying and took off around the cruiser," Rohrer said.

While Rohrer was behind bars, Sunshine was hit by a car and died.

Gaston County's District Attorney dropped charges of resisting arrest and panhandling against Rohrer in exchange for him pleading guilty to driving without a license.

"We are satisfied with today's plea arrangement and we are pleased that Mr. Rohrer has agreed to participate in the Catawba County Veterans Treatment Court where he can receive services specifically tailored to his needs," Gaston County Police Department said in a statement.

However, Rohrer is not satisfied.

"This by no means is any resolution to this case. It's just beginning because now we have to get the body cam footage which they seem to still be refusing to release to us," Rohrer said.

Rohrer said the body camera video will back up his story that he should never have been arrested and that officers unnecessarily escalated the situation.

"The reason they're refusing to release it is because it shows the magnitude of their cover-up and their lies and their criminal actions against me and my service dog Sunshine," Rohrer said. "This isn't just about me and Sunshine. This is way bigger than that. This is about how they treat the homeless. This is about veterans with mental health crisis."