Body cam video shows Holton police making inappropriate comments about 18-year-old woman

Officers, dispatcher send letters of apology

The body camera footage of Holton police officer Brian Barber shows him in a conversation with Sgt. Steven Fredericks and dispatcher Belinda Cashman as the three made inappropriate comments about Holton resident Ashley Holthaus. (Submitted)

Body camera footage shows two Holton Police Department officers and a dispatcher talking disparagingly about an 18-year-old woman — remarking on her body, insulting her baby and claiming her family is incestuous.


The video, obtained by The Capital-Journal, shows the officials making the comments about Holton resident Ashley Holthaus on July 24, 2016.

Holton police body camera footage reveals officers and a dispatcher making disparaging remarks about a Holton family.

Officer Brian Barber, who was wearing the body cam, states, “The girl always (expletive) lies.”

Sgt. Steven Frederick replies by saying he didn’t see Holthaus’ face, but he recognized her by her backside.

Holthaus, who was 18 years old at the time, went to the police to make a report about a fight she was involved in at a Holton Casey’s General Store. Barber, in the footage, describes the incident as a “mutual brawl.”

“What do they say when it’s not recording?” Holthaus said in an interview last week. “It made me lose some faith in law enforcement.”

In the video, Frederick goes on to say that Holthaus’ baby is “destined to be a (expletive) loser.” The dispatcher, Belinda Cashman, chimes in saying, “As (expletive) up as that family is, maybe it’s his,” implying that Ashley’s father is also her baby’s father.

Holthaus said that not only is the content of the video untrue, but she was disturbed her daughter was part of the discussion.

“My daughter’s innocent,” Holthaus said. “You can not like me, but bringing my daughter into it is sick.”

Since discovering the footage through her lawyer, Holthaus has wondered whether she can rely on the police department should she need to.

Her father, Doug Holthaus, said that when he first viewed the footage it left him in disbelief.

“It really puts a distrust in public service, in your public officials,” he said.

His lawyer contacted the city. In January, Doug and Ashley Holthaus received letters of apology from the three officials in the video and Holton police chief Gale Gakle, who supervises both officers and dispatchers.

“I agree that the remarks made by those employees were unprofessional, offensive and discourteous,” Gakle’s letter reads.

Barber wrote, “The comments were intended to be private, however private or public, the comments reflect poorly on myself, the Holton Police Department and the law enforcement community.”

“Sometimes in an attempt to be witty or interesting, I cross a line and hurt people who don’t deserve it,” Cashman said in her letter. “While I can’t take back my behavior, I can promise you that I will think hard about the repercussions of my words next time before I say them.”

In an interview last week, Gakle said the employees have undergone training to address the incident and are being monitored to make sure guidelines are followed. Gakle said he believes the situation has been addressed sufficiently.

Ashley Holthaus doesn’t think the letters are enough and that those in the video wrote them only to save their jobs.

“If I were to make a comment like that, my job would be gone, and they’re public officials,” said Holthaus, who works at a nursing home. “I hold myself to a higher standard than that.”

Holthaus, who was charged with disorderly conduct, also believes there was bias in her case.

She was arrested and eventually sentenced to three months of unsupervised probation in connection with the fight.

A search on the Kansas District Court Records website shows no criminal cases in Jackson County for Jordan Sowers, the other woman involved in the scuffle. However Jackson County prosecutor Shawna Miller said a case was filed. According to Jackson County District Court, no hearings have been set in the case.

Holthaus said if prosecutors were serious about the case, they would have proceeded by now.

Doug Holthaus acknowledges that his daughter has been in trouble in the past and that she behaved disrespectfully in public during the July fight. But he added that he doesn’t understand why only his daughter has been charged, tried and convicted.

“I think it’s extremely prejudicial,” Doug Holthaus said.

Reporter Luke Ranker contributed to this story.

Contact reporter Katie Moore at (785) 295-5612 or @katertott on Twitter.

Mary Joseph 8 months ago

This is news why?

Nelson Corn 8 months ago
Because the snowflakes that have emerged over the last several years insist that every time they get "offended" that it becomes a public spectacle. 
Chad Billings 8 months ago
Because we are all guaranteed equal protection under the law, and this shows we are not getting it.
Nelson Corn 8 months ago
What law was broken? State the statue number. Unlike the Federal Judge in Hawaii, you can't make up laws that suit your agenda.
Anne Bergman 8 months ago
14th Amendment. United States Constitution.
Nelson Corn 8 months ago
Yes, the 14th Amendment gives equal protection from and/or under the law. Again, what LAW was broken here? Is there a law against three people having a conversation now?
Anne Bergman 8 months ago
No.  It's not against the law to be an a-hole.  I don't think that's the pertinent question here.
Chad Billings 8 months ago
14th Amendment. Not state law. United States Constitution. Throw your anger at that.
KERI STRAHLER 8 months ago
K.S.A. 60-209(j) slander. 
Angie Duncan 8 months ago
Since when is 'behind the scenes' of dispatch/p.o.'s office, small talk/smack and disrespectful opinions a part of the news??? This IS EVERY WHERE for crying out loud! #pettynewsarticle
Chris Kampmeier 8 months ago
Really who ever released this video should be fired..... this isn't News by any means..... 
DOUG HOLTHAUS 8 months ago
Nobody "released" it.  My daughter's lawyer got it in the discovery phase of her case.  You don't find it concerning that a county attorney would charge one individual in an altercation but not the other when the other was the first one to throw the first punch?  My daughter only got three months unsupervised probation because the judge on her case found it, in his own words "very troublesome" that the county attorney didn't charge her also.  Can you say informant?
Randi Urban 8 months ago
This happens everywhere. Doctors offices, pharmacies, schools, gas stations, grocery stores, and many more. One instance I know of firsthand is a surgeon DURING surgery commenting on a woman's physique thinking the patient was completely under the effects of anesthesia. Sadly these things DO happen and will NEVER stop but their jobs should not be questioned because of this. These people will do their jobs as required. In the case of these police officers I'm sure we're there a real threat they would react the same with Ms. Holthaus as they would any other citizen. But it seems to me the people that get the bad "raps" are chronic over abusers of the "system" and expect cops to handle their drama. Grow up be a responsible adult and keep yourself out of trouble, it's really that simple.
Denette McGehee 8 months ago
and it was said  of a THEN 8 month old baby girl  she is destined to become a loser.  What a Godly statement...determining the life of a baby.  When someone who is paid to protect you...demoralizes you at 8 months old   what chance does that child have in that city?   Should have left the baby out of it.
KYLE ERICKSON 8 months ago
It might to on everywhere but that dosent mean it should. Most places would terminate for such behavior and these three are no different. At the least they should be severely reprimanded. 
Bart Ross 8 months ago
I agree, Kyle. I can't believe the comments above. They claim that everybody talks like this. This bunch of "law enforcers" should all be fired immediately. That's the only way to stop nonsense like this. 
Nelson Corn 8 months ago
Do you think that the Mayors around the country refusing to enforce Federal law should be terminated immediately? Didn't think so.
Nelson Corn 8 months ago
When it gets to the point in this country when "most would terminate" over someone's opinion that THEY decide they don't like this country is in big trouble. Who decides what is appropriate and what is not? Who? Some snowflake in mom's basement playing video games or a bunch of anti-American clowns burning flags on the street corner?
Bud Hidalgo 8 months ago
Private conversation, shouldn't have been on news, only the snowflakes sissies get upset.   You try putting up with these issues and see how your attitude might change and need a little stress relief.
Anne Bergman 8 months ago
Public record conversations in which law enforcement officers are showing obvious personal disdain for a subject should not be brushed aside as "dealing with stress".  It's not a private company. Recordings are public record.
Anne Bergman 8 months ago
Maybe a prudent question as to why this is news would be whether investigations are conducted as thoroughly and impartially when an alleged victim is deemed to be of lower social and moral worth.
Nelson Corn 8 months ago
Deemed so by who? From the very nature of your comment it is easy to assume you are a Liberal Democrat. Famous for dividing the population into every sub-group you can think of. "lower social and moral worth"  ???   Speaks for itself.
DOUG HOLTHAUS 8 months ago
For your information, this is the father of this incident.  I have served in the military and retired after 30 years in a major telecomminications company.  I am a registered republican and my politics are very conservative.  The reason why this should become public is that the county prosecutor needs to treat EVERYONE the same.  The girl my daughter got into an altercation with was never charged and she threw the first punch.  Have you ever served in the military or have you just been good at running your mouth all of your life?
Nelson Corn 8 months ago
I have made no  disparaging comments about you or your daughter. We are in dangerous times in this country with the way people disagree on even the most simple things.
Anne Bergman 8 months ago
So, Nelson... let me engage in some critical thinking analysis with you.  When three people, who are law enforcement officers and/or dispatchers, discuss WHILE BEING RECORDED that a girl is A) recognizable by her @$$, B) "probably" engages in incest as *f-ed up as that family is", C) whose baby will be a loser, and D) has given her baby to her father so, "she can go make more"... These three people have taken it upon themselves to make the call that she is of lower worth as a human being.  You can pretend this is a dem/liberal issue if you want, but it isn't.  It's basic human decency.  I do not see a lot of that in the video and their behavior is what I base my observations on, not my political proclivities.  The reason this is news is because someone who has been the recipient of obvious DOCUMENTED (operative word here - not "alternative facts") prejudicial treatment may, in fact, be treated unfairly in a court of law. And that is a problem.  If you can't see that beyond your penchant to turn everything into a dem vs rep issue, you are the problem.  Not the "snowflakes".  
Nelson Corn 8 months ago
You didn't answer my question. You simply introduced three or four more talking points. Generally referred to as straw-man  arguments. Given everything you say is true, the question still remains: Why is this news?
Anne Bergman 8 months ago

I did answer your question. 

The three people in the video- which I assume you also watched - deemed, through their behavior and words, that she is of a lesser moral and social character.  That shows prejudice on their part.  The great thing about strawman arguments is that they often get to the real heart of the matter and answer the questions actually pertinent to the situation at hand - not some weird, disjointed smattering of ad hominem BS thrown about by someone who can't logically justify the situation.  How your brain puts things together is not the question I care to, or am qualified, to answer.

It's news because it is exposing a very real possibility (probability depending on how firm you are in your POV) that the actions of this particular law enforcement collective is engaging in prejudicial and unjust practices and people are being treated unfairly in a court of law based on the individual LEOs' personal opinions of the citizen in question.  That's why it's news. 

Nelson Corn 8 months ago
That is YOUR conclusion of the meaning of their words. I'm am through with this blog. The whole point in my getting involved in this in the first place is that it's a shame that something like this has to become fodder for a public comment vine. Sad. Doesn't speak well for society. Have a nice day.
Nelson Corn 8 months ago
You finally surrendered your true self.
Jenny Banaka 8 months ago
Because it shows the bias of Holton Kansas and Jackson County and why I am sceptical about ever returning
JEFFREY TERRELL 8 months ago
These children are being paid to do this with taxpayer money?  This behavior isn't offensive, it's piggish and dumb.  It's disrespectful and stupid, and if "it happens everywhere," it is piggish and dumb everywhere. These Greek gods sure seem to be disappointing in more ways than one.  The adults in the room here aren't offended, we're angry you treat Kansas so poorly, anywhere, but especially at the job we're paying you for.
krista rutledge 8 months ago
This is news worthy.  It shows the police department has different guidelines for different people and they are corrupt.  By them saying the stuff they said about Ashley shows they dislike her.  Therefore Ashley is charged with a crime and the girl who threw the first punch is not charged???????  The police should not be able to charge and prosecute only the people they want.  They should lose their jobs.
Denette McGehee 8 months ago
I also say to this statement  that  the girl who threw the first punch was at one time a Jackson county police officers baby sitter.  Can we say NEPOTISM?  I say to  EVERYONE on here who thinks this is "snowflakes"  How would you like to  have your family  accused and laughed at with the term INCEST involved.  IT MAKES ME SICK!!!!  SHE should lose her job.
Kevin Hamm 8 months ago
Those cops should not only be fired immediately, but given 500 hours of community service. Household repairs on the Holthaus home would be a good start. Then wash their mouths with soap and tar n feather them out of town. Bet the police would start being police and not obnoxious gossips
Nelson Corn 8 months ago
Don't get carried away for Lord's sake.
Kimmie Oliver 8 months ago
Makes me SERIOUSLY WONDER what has been spoken of MY FAMILY.
We trust these people to be WISE and ABOVE OTHERS in CHARACTER.


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