A federal judge overseeing an excessive force lawsuit against Bozeman police has found that authorities intentionally erased a missing audio recording of he incident. And while U.S. District Judge Richard Anderson found the recording central to figuring out what happened during the incident more than five years ago, he didn’t immediately find the Bozeman Police Department liable for the injuries sustained by Soheil Jesse Verdi.
In his ruling, the judge said all the defendants agreed the audio segment was missing, but they haven’t made any meaningful effort to figure out why. If the audio existed, the judge said it would be favorable to Verdi’s claims of excessive force. “Segment 170 [of the audio tape] is the best evidence regarding what transpired during the three to four minutes in question and is, therefore, relevant material,” Anderson wrote.