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Friday, October 2, 2009

“His hat touched my face, and I thought he was going to head butt me.”

Sheriff: I didn’t do anything wrong

SMETHPORT — McKean County Sheriff Brad Mason Thursday afternoon stoutly defended the way he and his staff handled a June 26, 2008 incident at the McKean County Jail in Smethport involving then 86-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran Lester Watson.

“I take pride in what I do,” Mason said. “I have always tried to treat people with dignity and respect.

“I have been in this business (law enforcement) for 26 years,” Mason continued, “and I have never been accused of abusing anyone.” More...


From our archives, the original news report

Friday, June 27, 2008
Smethport Man Punches Sheriff

WESB News: 06/27/08 - Smethport Man Punches Sheriff Mason

A Smethport man was arrested after he struck McKean County Sheriff Brad Mason during an incident at the McKean County jail Thursday night.

85 year-old Lester Watson is facing several charges, including resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and harassment, after punching Sheriff Mason in the chest.

Watson is free on bail.

44 comments :

Anonymous said...

it shows you how this so called sherriff handels things in the eye of the public.you wonder how he handels the inmates inside the jail.This guy had no reason to do what he did .he could have just let the man go get his money order.In stead he just wanted to show his power to his guards.He was voted into office he can be voted out.

Anonymous said...

I have known Brad Mason all my life, and he is a good, decent man who takes pride in his job. This family and this man is no stranger to the law and the workings of it. They should be ashamed and Brad should sue them for defamation of character.

Anonymous said...

“I have been in this business (law enforcement) for 26 years,” Mason continued, “and I have never been accused of abusing anyone.”


Nobody has to accuse Mason of abusing, we can all see it on the Video. Mason should have been a professional and let the obviously distraught elderly man run his mouth and leave. If Mason would have just shut his mouth and let Watson leave, this whole situation could have been avoided.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100% Friday, October 2, 2009 10:18:00 AM EDT..what he done was very uncalled for..I'm just hoping he never served in the Armed Services or any of his family members..Because if he can do that to another "fellow" veteran, then he will be able to do that to one of his family members..I have NO RESPECT for Brad Mason..I am a daughter of a veteran..I dispise the way the veterans get treated..They served our country so we could have things..Treat them and their belongings with the utmost respect..Just remember if it wasn't for our VETERANS, we wouldn't be where we are today..MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH THE WATSON FAMILY..I hope justice is served on Brad Mason..

Anonymous said...

interesting that when you watch the video there is no punch to the chest to lead to the reason for the arrest.

Anonymous said...

this report says he got punched by the old man when did the old man punch him? I think you are delusional Mr Wannabe Piggy.

K-Town South said...

In response to Anonymous @ 10:18 am:
Are you kidding me? I asked this question yesterday. Where you there when this incident happened? If not, then you do not truly know what transpired. With this video lacking sound, you don’t know what was said. Therefore, you do not have all of the evidence needed to formulate an educated opinion. As far as I can see, this video clearly shows two things. First, it shows the elderly man being confrontational. Look at his hand gestures, posture and his aggressive body language. Next it shows Sheriff Mason taking the aggressive man into custody. It appears to me that those of you who are against Sheriff Mason are so because this man’s age and that he is a veteran of WWII. The last I knew neither one of those two criteria exempted a person from showing respect to other people, especially law enforcement personnel. Are you going to seriously tell me that you would allow this man, or any for that matter, to stand there and berate you, and you are going to do or say nothing because he is old and a vet? I really don’t think so!!

Anonymous said...

He's a bully. Always was a bully and always will be a bully. He should be brought up on charges for what he did to that poor man!

Anonymous said...

Brad is a joke and should be out of a job. The regular guy always gets the Sh@% end of the stick..... COP = POWER....

Anonymous said...

His hat touched your face because you felt the need to get toe to toe with him.

I am always amazed when bad behavior is somehow justified by citing "how long they've been in the profession"

Watch for the story to keep changing from the sheriff and an ultimate apology to avoid a lawsuit.

The sheriff is a servant of the people. He works for us, like a plumber or carpenter does.
He doesn't seem to get this and some of us don't get it either.

Completely unprofessional, uncalled for.
I hope he takes him to the cleaners with a civil rights lawsuit. A jury will eat this video tape up and deliver a just verdict.

Anonymous said...

no... that's COP = they think they can do whatever they want!

I am so sick and tired of being told that we MUST respect these buttheads. These guys have to realize that just because they have a uniform and a shiney badge it gives them the right to berate and belittle other citizens. THEY WORK FOR US!

by the way....I would like to see a full investigation on the dept's involvement on this movie business too. If these guys are supposedly working security on their own time, then why are they using the taxpayers property (the cars, guns, etc)?

Anonymous said...

in no way does it show a head butt or the old man slap at the sheriff the cuffs should have been put on the sheriff what a joke for a sherriff

Anonymous said...

You don't need to have any sound to see what is going on. The Sheriff should have never followed him outside and into the parking lot to provoked things. I live in McKean county and I know who isn't getting my vote. We'll be lucky if this doesn't end up costing us as tax payers for the lawsuit in the end. You know he may have been good his whole career but it only takes one time to mess it all up and this looks like his one time and he messed it up good.

Anonymous said...

Mason where the heck is your disgression.. dude why open this can of worms. come on lets look beyond the badge and use some thought before slapping cuffs on 85 year old man. You arent on a cuff then ask questions basis you are local which means you talk long before cuffs or power become involved.

Anonymous said...

K-Town South,
Are you serious? Ever heard of freedom of speech. Unless this man was endangering Mason or making terroristic threats, he has no right.

I only respect the police as much as they give. If they respect me, then I respect them. Just because you carry a gun doesn't give anymore power than the average citizen in normal public interaction such as this.

The other sad part is that others watched while this occured and felt it was fine. I know law enforcement watches eachother's back but they shouldn't be so agreeable in cases of abuse of power.

Anonymous said...

First of all you had no right to arrest the guy freedom of speech and you brought it on when you followed him out leading to this situation. Lastly this guy was 85 years old "headbutting come on" mason do your job you are local not federal you are like a paper tiger.. give me a break.

Anonymous said...

mason come on you had no right to slap cuffs on the poor guy... freedom of speech. "the guy was gonna headbutt you" give me a break. You are such a paper tiger... local= paper dont let the wind blow you over so you think you need to show control on another elderly victim.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a police officer abusing power on an 85 year old man.

Anonymous said...

I know neither the Sheriff nor the accused, but it looks to me that Sheriff Mason went over the line. Mr. Watson was clearly upset at the beginning, but with the immense power given the position, is imperative that the police always act with the utmost of professionalism. Mason had no business walking up to Watson in the manner he did, regardless of any possible threats that were made (You can make the argument that approaching someone who's being abusive would be foolhardy).The video then reveals Mason stopping inches away from Watson directly in his face. Common sense dictates that most CALM people would perceive this as an overtly aggressive posture (Imagine what a angry man would think).These actions cause one to seriously question Masons later recollection:

“He was close enough that he stepped on my shoe at one point,” Mason recalls. “His hat touched my face, and I thought he was going to head butt me.”

Throughout his time at the jail, leading up to his arrest, Watson was “irate, violent, name calling. Many times he was given the opportunity to calm down,” Mason says.

“I was trying to deal with this gentleman with kid gloves,” Mason says. “It was not the first interaction we have had with the family.”

Mason's judgement was at the very least quite poor. If in fact, he had experienced problems with the family in the past, this was not the time to act in an "alpha male" fashion. Approaching a person in such a manner generally leads to escalation, not resolution of a situation. He may have been attempting to calm Watson down previously, but the final actions leading to the arrest belie any "kid glove" approach. His perception that Watson might have "head butted" him is a result of him having invaded the personal space of a clearly upset person, again, not very smart.

None of this excuses any improper conduct that Watson may have engaged in, but Mason should take responsibility for his actions. They are all too plain to see.


As far as Watson being a vet, the point is wholly irrelevant to this case. (For the record, I am an Air Force vet that strongly believes in law and order).

I'd also be very afraid if "K-Town South" had a badge, "Are you going to seriously tell me that you would allow this man, or any for that matter, to stand there and berate you, and you are going to do or say nothing because he is old and a vet? I really don’t think so!!"

Unless physically threatened, a police officer should do EXACTLY that! Nothing.

Anonymous said...

Gimme a break, saying the old man was confrontational...the guards and the sheriff approached him. Just one time it was on tape. I just wish I had tapes of the crap the police have done to me throughout my life. These ppl have nothing but huge heads and egos to go with them, and think they own other people because they are in law enforcement.

I hope that Sheriff gets what he deserves. And btw, kudos to the comment about ppl in jail...funny how the public thinks one thing, if you only knew how some prisoners were really treated by men just like this Sheriff.

Max_Hedrum said...

Most of us are against the good sheriff because he has a long history of being heavy handed. There was no excuse for him to act the way he did. The elderly gentleman was beckoned over to him, he was not a threat to the high sheriff. Mason could of backed up when he got close, like most of the law enforcement are trained to do. Instead he chose to be confrontational and make it a felony take down. K-town south, my opinion is base on knowing the good sheriff long before when he was a lowly cop in Smethport. Once a jerk always a jerk

Anonymous said...

People like him give law enforcement officials a bad name. Looks to me like the sheriff shoved the poor guy.

Anonymous said...

Something needs to be done about this crap.

Nothing but gestapos in this country anymore...take more and more of our rights each day and treat our elderly like this...what a shame.

You should be ashamed of yourself!

And you better believe come election time this video and many more will posted on the web.

Go find another job Mr. Sheriff, one were you cannot abuse your powers, you coward!

Anonymous said...

It looks to me like the Sheriff is the one that instigated the entire scuffle.

Screw suing him, that Sheriff needs to be charged with assault. PERIOD!

Anonymous said...

11:11 am....you can say what you want...the sheriff should have went back inside and prevented confrontation...plain simple period. there is nothing else to it..not only but i think he was quite pushy with the 86 year old man.

Anonymous said...

If you look further into this case, Mr. Watson has dropped his charges and pleaded guilty and decided he did not want a jury trial against Mr. Mason. Get your head out of your a%$ and think where we would be without some form of laws? How would Mr. Mason know if the geezer was a vet or not? Did you, before any of this took place? Moron.

Anonymous said...

It just gets me. You see the "assailant" stop right in the middle of the road and Roscoe P Coltrain continues to advance towards the guy. He has a full 7 steps until he's within "punching" diastance. Now if I'm afraid someone's going to throw down, or pull something, I'm not going to walk up to him and confront him 3 inches from his face. I'm going to take a defensive stance.


I for one am fearful of ever meeting Roscoe and his dog flash in an emergency... I might get cuffed and stuffed.

As a public "servant" he should be using force only as a last resort not as a way of getting rid of an annoyance.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't Mr. Mason charged with lying to the authorities.... His story has clearly changed since Mr. Watson's arrest... I mean he origianlly said (and his witnesses agreed) that Mr. Watson punched him... now he is saying his hat bumped him? Anyone else would have been charged for lying.

Mason is a jerk. His deputies are worse. I think the county offices need an overhaul. Start at the top..the comissioners if they refuse to properly handle this. Remeber folks, we elect them, too.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Mr.Mason or Mr.Watson either but if you ask me it looks like Mr.Mason abusing his power. He should be punished for what he did whether Mr.Watson dropped charges or not the county should take over the charges and handle it they take over it in any other case. It looks as if he is just a head strong officer that wanted to make himself look good in front of his piers.

Anonymous said...

The sheriff is an elected position. The comissioners don't have the capability to handle an elected office. Before you use that thing in the middle of your face to illicit propoganda use the thing between your ears. Also, you freedom of speech does not apply to name calling and the use of vulgarity (which is a form of verbal abuse and disorderly conduct so 12:20:00 you should check your amendments. 10:53:00- what he done? really? don't do that, it ruins the case for everyone else who is upset for what he DID, or didn't do.

Bottom line you are all acting off what you see on a tape that doesn't cover audio or all perspectives so you can not judge anything.

Anonymous said...

Oct,2 1:23.

Shut your face... did you read the story, this isn't the first time this family has had problems with the "Bully"! He may be affraid for his family.

Yes - laws are good, when the people enforcing them are not abusing them!

get YOUR head out of YOUR A#$

Anonymous said...

3:26- You made me laugh right off my chair! You accuse others of "using that thing on thier face before using that thing between your ears" and yet your post is full of misspellings and typos.

It is our right as citizens of The United States of America to watch a video like this and make our own determinations as to what we think happened here. A picture is worth a thousand words and we have 2:01 worth of pictures.

Why no investigation on Mr. Mason lying on a police report? hmmm.....
If he isn't accountable to the county commissioners then WHO does he answer to?

Anonymous said...

call in the coroner he has authority over the sherriff he can cite this Mr. Piggy. on other parts I have 1 thing to ask. If Guards, Cops, or Sheriffs are to put their guns in a secured locker how long did it take for Mr. Mason to get his out cuz clearly his is on his side. IT is against the law to carry weapons inside jail facilities thats why they have secured lockers for them. What if one of the inmates escaped and grabs masons gun while he was being mr badass, then you would have a riot and numerous people dead. Do an investigation on why he had his gun on his side walking out of the jail. it should have taken him long enough to pull his gun out of the locker and put it n his holster for the old man to leave without incident. so all you Pig Lovers who think Mason did right Who cares about audio when there is evidence of his wrong duing in many forms. Mason wants voted for again, heres my opinion VOTE his ass Out Impeach the fat bastard. Citizens have the power to attends these meeting it shouldnt all be up to Watsons family to pursue this its you county people who should too.

Anonymous said...

Watson never stepped on Masons toe either. Mason is a liar and should be charged with assault.

Anonymous said...

"If Guards, Cops, or Sheriffs are to put their guns in a secured locker how long did it take for Mr. Mason to get his out cuz clearly his is on his side. IT is against the law to carry weapons inside jail facilities thats why they have secured lockers for them."

Because Mr Mason clearly premeditated his act of assault. That's why Mason had his sidearm.

Anonymous said...

come to potter county bad brad,i would pay 20 grand to go 12 rounds with you popbelly piggy !!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

As the cops see it they go by tapes whether voices are on it or not. It is still considered evidence. Now if that would have been common folks they would have been in jail already so why isn't Mr.Piggy.

Anonymous said...

"in this business for 26 years"

and this is what you give us for law enforcement.

we should get our money back.

I hope your shopping for a good defense attorney.

Anonymous said...

wouldn't you love to on the jury deciding this case. goodbye pension.

Anonymous said...

Since when is it a crime to get mad or swear? Mason says he thought the old guy was gonna headbutt him.....I hope he doesn't think Judy Church is gonna headbutt him at their meeting, make sure you bring your mace sheriff.
If the sheriff would have let him go he would have left. The sheriff says he followed him out to ask if he could help him, but then says he's had a lot of dealings with this guy before, and knows that the old guy is irate. Holy shit, which is it Brad?
If there is a funny side to it, the old guy holds his own for a minute or so........

Anonymous said...

Well I am not familiar with eithea party in this matter. I live in Potter county. As I watch the vidio I also wonder why the sheriff didn't just let the man leave and if he need to arest him just pick him up later when things had cooled down a bit.

Joseph P. Mitchell

Anonymous said...

I smell bacon I smell pork, Watch out piggy I got my fork!!!!!


This is just 1 sad example of the law enforcement that McKean and let's not forget Potter counties have. If the cop thought Mr. watson was a threat why follow him outside? Why lie about him punching him? Why does it look as if the female in the video wanted to stop the officer? Why because it is a joke!!!! The cop had no reason at all to act as he did, oh wait he had run ins with " this family" before, sounds like a grudge if you ask me. And Mr. Watson probably pled guilty and dropped charges in fear of what retaliation may happen to him or his family. If McKean County let's this go it is time we all start writing the govenor and go above their head to take our county back!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It should be reviewed by the states attorney general.

Anonymous said...

You people are all blind. The tape doesnt show what Mr. Watson is doing with his right hand. He could have punched Mr. Mason. If you watch it, yes the Sheriff does walk within inches of Mr. Watson but since you all are screaming about rights, dont forfet the sheriff has rights too and walking up to someone is his right. BUT NO ONE has the right to lay hands on any law enforcement person.

Mr. Watson leaned into the sheriff, it looks like he may have initiated the physical contact and who knows what he is doing with his right hand.

Dont forget we cant hear what was said. Again the sheriff has the same freedom of speech so why does he have to back down?

Learn the law. If you threaten someone verbally you can and most likely will be arrested.

I for one am very grateful to all veterans but when they break the law they are no better than anyone else.

I think both men involved made poor decisions. Both men could have done something different to resolve this in a peaceful manner.