Woman allegedly beaten by military police officer
Cady Cassis's life changed the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. She set out to have a good time with a co-worker at a bar, but instead, she says what she got was a beating that put her in the hospital.
"I have three sub dermal hematomas in my brain which are bleeding contusions, and one of them is actually in the back of my brain, right here, which is a stroke spot, so I've been having to be on seizure medication, and at any given time, I could have a stroke. I've never had anything but asthma in my life."
Cassis gets emotional when she talks about her injuries. The 20-year-old had never been hospitalized before that day.
"[The doctor] looked me in my eyes, and he said if you would have been hit one or two more times, you probably wouldn't be here right now, and that's what really scares me and not only for me but for any other woman out there because this man is still out there."
The man Cassis accused of the assault is military police officer Randall Burkhalter. Cassis said her friend met Burkhalter on the dating web site Plenty of Fish. The three were all at 'My Friend's Bar' in North Little Rock that Friday. Cady says things didn't go well after she made fun of her friends date.
"I asked him what he did, and he said, 'I'm a cop.' I said. 'Okay, can I see your badge?' He said 'I don't have one.' I said, 'Oh, are you a rent-a-cop or like a mall cop?"
According to Cassis, Burkhalter didn't think her joke was very funny, but he cooled off and Cassis thought that was the end of it.
"He didn't act as if anything was really wrong. We didn't converse after that either though," said Cassis.
According to her, the two avoided each other during the remainder of their time at the bar. Cassis says the physical altercation happened after to 2 a.m., when the bar closed down, though she says her memory is not clear on the location of the beating. She blames her multiple head injuries for her lapse in memory.
Cassis co-worker, who did not want to be identified, did tell her side of the story by phone to KATV. She says Burkhalter left the bar and headed to his house in Ward. She says she and Cassis drove to the house and to meet Burkhalter, who was sitting in his garage when they arrived. The co-worker says Cassis remained in the car while she and Burkhalter argued in the garage. She says Cassis, approached the two at some point, to intervene in the verbal argument, and that's when Burkhalter grabbed Cassis, throwing her into the truck. The co-worker says Burkhalter hit Cassis several more times. She helped Cassis into the car and drover her home. She says hours later when she and a neighbor assessed the swelling, she drove Cassis to the emergency room.
Randall Burkhalter tells a different story. By phone he told KATV what Cady says is a lie. Burkhalter filed a police report with the Ward Police Department providing his version of events. Like the co-worker, Burkhalter says he was waiting in the garage when the two women arrived at his Ward house. In the report he stated an intoxicated Cady came at him and fell on her face. She then got up and fell into his truck, bouncing into his car and scratching the front fender. He says she punched him on the chin, and he politely instructed her to get back into her car. She then punched the back of his head and fell down for the last time. Burkhalter told an officer that night that he's the victim, with damage to his truck, but he didn't want to press charges.
Cassis called Burkhalter's story ridiculous. "That's a completely ridiculous statement to even say. That's impossible. I don't care who you are, you can't just do something and then fall on the ground and get three (hematomas). I worked in the medical field for years. It doesn't happen."
Cassis's broken jaw will be wired shut for another couple weeks. While her daughter Cady lay unconscious in the hospital, Michelle Cassis called the police to report the alleged beating.
"It was devastating I mean it was very very scary, but at the same time you have to be very strong," recalled Michelle Cassis.
Cassis called the North Little Rock and Ward Police Departments as well as the Air Force. All three agencies began investigating and it was determined that the Ward PD had jurisdiction. According to Ward, the Air Force investigators were initially farther along in the investigation. The chief decided to hand the investigation over to the Air Force, though Ward still assisted in obtaining search warrants.
Michelle Cassis said she was initially pleased with the speed of the investigation, but now, coming up on two months after the alleged assault, believed investigators have had enough time to gather evidence. She said she is uncomfortable with the amount of time that has passed without any formal charges.
"I realize he has a right to trial but when; that's my question. When are we going to make a move on this?" asked Michelle Cassis.
The Air Force said there is no 'typical' amount of time for an investigation of this nature.
"The Air Force is ensuring this case is investigated fully. Because this is an ongoing investigation, it is our policy to not comment on or make speculations concerning the outcome of this case. However, The Air Force takes all allegations of misconduct, including assault, seriously. We will investigate fully and take appropriate action if warranted."
Update: The Air Force has expedited the Burkhalter case
Update: Several folks have asked questions about the facts of this story that, for the sake of time, were not included in the original broadcast and transcript. We will address some of those questions here.
1) Cady Cassis admitted during the interview to drinking underage that night.
2) The Air Force currently has jurisdiction in this investigation at the request of the Ward Police Department.
3) Included in Burkhalter's statement to police is a statement by a neighbor and friend who says two unknown males knocked on her door looking for information about Burkhalter. According to the statement, those males implied a female was conspiring to accuse Burkhalter of assault.
4) Cassis's jaw is still wired shut.