Olegs Kozancenko, Beaten For What?

Olegs Kozancenko was a long-haul trucker.  Not a gang-banger or drug dealer. Not a child molester or con man.  A 58-year-old, 165 pound truck driver, finishing a haul and on his way home.  So how does he end up looking like this?

Well, the immediate reason is pretty simple: he was beaten by CHP Officers Andrew P. Murrill and Jim Sherman after they received “a report of a sleepy driver at the brake check station five miles east of the scene.”  Murrill gave Kozacenko a ticket for driving his truck too long, though it was based on his truck log for driving two days earlier.  It turns out that Murrill, by his own testimony, wasn’t a commercial truck “specialist,” which is code for he had no clue how to read the truck log or what the law required.  But that didn’t stop him from being a cop, so he issued the ticket, directed Kozancenko to sign it, and then Kozancenko did the unthinkable:

Kozancenko said he first wanted to read the ticket before signing.
So Murrill was constrained to use force.

The 220-pound Murrill goes on to write in his report that the 6’ 165 pound Kozacenko was “actively resisting ” and “exhibited extraordinary strength” in refusing to be detained. “It was not a standard arrest,” the officer stated on the witness stand, even with the help of his 190-pound fellow CHP officer Sherman on the scene with Murrill.

Suspend for the moment the concern over the absence of any cause for a citation, no less an arrest, and focus on the “extraordinary strength” used to prevent the arrest.  Note that the word “lawful” doesn’t precede arrest, but that’s just for accuracy’s sake.

“He’s punched, his arm is broken, they’re on top of him face down, his ribs (are) fractured ,” said Katz. “They’re cutting off the oxygen for a significant period of time, they’re trying to use a taser on him.” 

Is that it, you wonder?  Well, no. That’s not it.

…the truck driver suffered life-threatening injuries including a crushed left orbital eye socket, multiple facial fractures, a broken left arm, a concussion, unconsciousness and possible neurological damage.

Medical records also show that he apparently stopped breathing while lying out on the highway and had to be rushed to Auburn Faith Hospital. But Kozacenko’s injuries were too severe for that  hospital’s emergency room and he had to be transported to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
All for being sleepy, if only because of a mistaken reading of his log book by a cop who admittedly is clueless?  Of course not, as the excuses mount:

In addition to being cited by officer Murrill for driving over hours, Kozacenko was written up for DUI.   However,  that citation was also dropped (along with the driving too many hours charge) when Kozacenko’s  blood alcohol came back clean at 0.00%.
After all, it never hurts to throw in a DUI just in case, because after a horrifically severe beating, it’s best to be able to explain that he was a drunk driver. Everyone hates a drunk driver, and is sure that he got what’s coming to him.  And in the immediate aftermath of a beating, the only spokesman on camera is paid by the police to tell the story of the how the CHP stopped a drunken potential killer on the road.

After all charges were dropped, after the explanations made by Murrill for the outrageous beating and harm done by two burly cops to this guy who drives a truck were laughed at, after the excuses were rejected and ridiculed, one might reasonably wonder what became of Murrill and Sherman.

Acting Chief Ken Hill oversees the CHP Valley Division, which includes the CHP Gold Run office where Murrill still works. Hill told NBC Bay Area he could not address the specifics of the case because  of pending litigation, but assured that he reviews every incident where force is used by one of his officers including Kozacenko’s incident.

“It was not something that jumped out at me being ‘oh my gosh,’ we have some serious issues here,” Hill told NBC Bay Area.

But being a helpful sort, Acting Chief Hill offered these concluding words of wisdom.

“The public if they get stopped and simply comply with what they are asked to do, they have nothing to fear, nothing to fear at all. It is when a citizen decides to disregard the direction that they are given, and they decide to do something different, then things escalate, and I’m not talking about this case specifically, but sometimes a citizen will do things that causes us to escalate our actions,” Hill said.

Or to put it another way, do what we tell you or you’ll end up like Olegs Kozancenko. 

H/T FritzMuffKnuckle



18 thoughts on “Olegs Kozancenko, Beaten For What?

  1. Matt Haiduk


    “The public if they get stopped and simply comply with what they are asked to do, they have nothing to fear, nothing to fear at all.”

    All you’ve got to do to avoid being beaten is whatever the government says whenever they say it, whether or not there’s any reason for them to do so? Nice.

  2. SHG

    Granted, it’s a bit aspirational on the public’s part, but at least it’s a bright line test.

  3. Bob Mc

    I would hope a high ranking guy like Chief Hill would understand the difference between “asking” some body to do something and “ordering” somebody to do something.

    Of course LEOs love to conflate the two so they can go to court and claim consent.

    “I didn’t order him to open his trunk, I asked him to and he did”.

    They also love to “ask” if you want to do this the easy way or the hard way. Mr Kozancenko shows us what awaits those who don’t choose the easy way.

  4. SHG

    It seems that the word “ask” needs to be redefined in law to reflect the absence of a beating in the event someone politely declines. 

  5. jill mcmahon

    I used to print out some of your posts and give them to my dad who is a longtime criminal lawyer in upstate NY. Lately, I don’t do it so much because the beating go on and on, it rarely changes,and I figure he gets enough bad news on the job.
    BUT,giving up in apathy means that things definitely will not change although ignorance is bliss for the would-be reader. Thank you, Jeff, for continuing to fight the good fight by persistently informing people of what’s going on out there.

  6. Brett Middleton

    And now we have another. A Bakersfield man was beaten to death a couple of days ago, apparently because he appeared to be intoxicated. Has the CHP just gone completely nuts? Sounds like this is a very bad time of year to be in California.

  7. SHG

    “He wasn’t resisting,” the one witness told Eyewitness News. “He was begging for help, and begging for his life — if you asked me.”

    The  Bakersfield killing of David Sal Silva raises a troubling problem: as officers sit atop you beating you with clubs, if you put your arms up to block the blows from killing you, they will argue that you are continuing to resist and use that as a justification to continue, if not escalate, the use of force.

    So to not “continue to resist,” you must not block the blows from the club and risk pain and death by simply allowing multiple cops with clubs to beat you in the head.  The options are dead but compliant or dead and noncompliant.


  8. TomPaine3


    American cops don’t beat people with clubs. They deliver “strokes” with “batons.” And batons are pretty nearly harmless. Hyperlinks prohibited, so trust me on this, but the American Heritage Dictionary tells us what little hazard is posed by a baton:

    “1. A short staff carried by some public officials as a symbol of office.” No mere symbol is going to hurt you.
    “2. A slender wooden stick … used to direct an orchestra.” Obviously harmless.
    At worst, “3. A hollow metal rod … twirled by a drum major or majorette.”

    So no worries. No need to try to resist such strokes.

    By contrast, I have heard of foreign uniformed bodies carrying more dangerous weapons. Usually “truncheons.”

  9. Cyndy

    And . . . you think I haven’t already tried? Pretty rude, aren’t you? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out I was doing just that when I happened upon your page. Thanks for the courtesy (sarcasm intended)!

  10. SHG

    Why no, I don’t “think” you already tried. You see, we don’t know each other so I have no clue whether you’re a lazy, clueless, entitled slacker who wants to be spoon fed answers because she’s such a special little snowflake that she assumes others exist to satisfy her interests and owe her the courtesy of feeding her self-esteem when she confers the honor of showing up for the first time.

    Now this is rude. Before wasn’t rude, just unaccommodating. See the difference?

  11. Cyndy

    Wow! Why didn’t you “think”? After all, how would anyone find your page without clicking on the third page of options during a search?

    And you are correct, you DON’T know me . . . so why are you assuming such things about me? Because I asked a question? I don’t need your paltry page in order to appease my ego or “self-esteem.”

    In my quest for knowledge upon a subject, I asked a question. If you do not know the answer or do not want to share the answer all you had to do was be a gentleman and write, “I don’t know” or “I cannot/ do not want to tell you.” The insults are immature, and show you lack enough intelligence to deliver a modicum of decency in your responses.

    So I will take my MENSA self and go to a different page where intelligence and courtesy do matter.

Comments are closed.