Capitol Cop Throws Videographer to the Ground

August 5, 2013  by WCMC

Wisconsin Capitol Police have been arresting people in the Capitol for singing their grievances against the Scott Walker Administration without a permit for the last two weeks.

Today during one of the multiple arrests, Officer Michael J. Syphard grabbed videographer Arthur Kohl-Riggs and threw him to the ground without any kind of warning or request to move.

Officer Syphard told Kohl-Riggs that he fell on purpose and to “cut it out.” Syphard also told him he was a drama queen, a label he also applied to 70 year old Vietnam veteran Will Williams who fell down a set of marble stairs while handcuffed in police custody last week.

Here’s another video with clips from three different angles of the take down:

Capitol Police Chief David Erwin exhibits poor judgment in allowing Officer Syphard to continue to interact with the public in high stress situations. Members of the public have written multiple complaints about Officer Syphard for handling them roughly and causing them injury in the past.

According to on-line court records, last year Syphard was charged with the crimes of Disorderly Conduct (a misdemeanor) and Intimidate Victim/Use or Attempt Force (a felony). Those records indicate that he entered a guilty plea to the Disorderly Conduct charge and the other charge was dismissed. Records indicate that his case remains open, having been referred to the Deferred Prosecution Program.

Officer Syphard and two new hires. Photo by Craig Spaulding

Officer Syphard and two new hires. Photo by Craig Spaulding

Contact David Erwin at 608 266-8797.

B2 North
State Capitol
Madison, WI 53702

To support the legal defense fund of those who have received citations over the past two weeks please donate here:

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15 Comments on “Capitol Cop Throws Videographer to the Ground”

  1. Michael August 5, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    It didn’t look to me like the officer “threw him to the ground.” I watched both videos repeatedly trying to understand what happened. It looks pretty clear to me that the officer jerked the videographer backwards, but there was no throwing in the direction of the ground. That jerk came as a complete surprise to the videographer, who looked like he didn’t even know the cop was there. The substantial backward jerk, and the surprise of it, caused the videographer to lose his footing and fall. I think if the videographer saw it coming, he would have been able to step backwards to support the change in the location of his center of gravity, and wouldn’t have fallen, but was yanked by surprise and maybe his feet got tied up on each other or something. After that the cop continued to be a jerk about it. I don’t think the cop intended for the videographer to end up on the ground, but clearly should have handled the situation differently.

    • John R. Graham August 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

      If I was this “mans” supervisor there would certainly be some disciplinary action. It is pretty apparent that the proper escalation was not made. Considering the criminal history of Officer Michael Syphard, I have concerns that he is still a sworn officer. I’m a retired Chief of Police, with Advanced certification, as well as Management and Supervisory Certifications. I often give the benefit of doubt to officers, in this case I think this Officer needs counseling at best.

  2. Bill123 August 5, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

    Looks like Syphard has some issues with an abusive father he needs to address while he’s looking for a new job.

  3. Beatrice Smith August 6, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Hello cops. You are goons. Go and take more steroids now. Cowards

  4. John Foust August 6, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    What did he do to Arthur’s back?

  5. helenrainier August 6, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Two things need to happen:
    Spyhard needs to be fired.
    Videographer should file charges in civil court so Spyhard has to pay out-of-his-own pocket.

  6. ionotter August 6, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    Oh, come on folks. I’m in total support of the Capitol Singers, but saying the officer “threw” him to the ground is not true.

    You already have a strong case and plenty of supporters. You don’t need stupid garbage like this to make your point.

    The officer is right. Stop being a drama queen.

    What happened to Mr. Williams, on the other hand, was *not* being a drama queen, and should be dealt with separately.

    • Jack August 6, 2013 at 11:45 am #

      Oh come on. If it was you, you’d be screaming bloody murder.

    • wcmcoop August 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

      “Stupid garbage?” It was Officer Syphard who grabbed Arthur and yanked him down. Arthur did not orchestrate this event. If it were Arthur or anyone else who had even laid a hand on a Capitol Police officer they would be arrested for assault.

  7. Jeff August 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    While it doesn’t look like the cop threw him to the ground, why was Officer Syphard even touching the citizen?!!
    Not everyone can learn or exercise restrained policing skills. This cop doesn’t even apologize and make sure the guy is OK but instead has to be more of a jerk. Maybe he instead needs to be guarding a cow pasture with an electric wand.

  8. Joe Thompson August 6, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    I could have a reasonable doubt that the officer wanted to put him on the floor, but officer clearly has downward motion on his arm when he yanked an unsuspecting videographer in what did result with him on the ground. Videoing an arrest is supported by much case law.

    This to me appears to be another egregious act of the Capitol Police to suppress a dissenting voice.

  9. Martin Maxwell August 7, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    As a teacher if I yanked a student in such a way, even if the student was out of control, I could be fired. I’m sure the police have a set of procedures on how and when to “move” someone out of the way if needed; I doubt an unannounced shoulder yank is one of the options. I agree it does not look like the officer “throws videographer to the ground” and in fact it looks as if he makes an attempt to catch him on his way down with his left hand. The overstatement however does not mater as the fall is still a result of unnecessary physical contact and movement by the officer acting in an unprofessional manner contrary to acceptable police practices. As a side note: I guess the police have no weight/body mass standards for their force – this guy looks as if he might need help finding his belt. Too many cheese curds, brats & brews maybe?

    • John R. Graham August 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm #


  10. John Jenkins August 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    Officer shouldn’t have touched him, but Arthur reacted like a European soccer player diving for a call. No one looks good here.

  11. Mairead August 10, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    Definitely looked like an “assisted fall” – he pretty clearly got yanked off his feet. Even experienced actors have a hard time falling backwards on cue; ordinary people do everything they can not to go down (I still have an un-healed hand from a last-winter fall in the parking lot–I went down so hard I thought I’d broken all my fingers, but it was “only” a whole-hand sprain).

    That cop needs to be told to find other work.

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