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.