State keeping 'superhero' away from disabled kids
Originally posted: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/State-keeping-superhero-away-from-disabled-kids-2249423.php
Seattle’s self-proclaimed superhero Phoenix Jones lost his job working with disabled children after his arrest for investigation of assault.
On Oct. 11, two days after he was arrested by Seattle police, the Department of Social and Health Services alerted his employer about the case, said DSHS spokeswoman Sherry Hill, who handles children’s administration.
“The provider was asked to remove him from any cases that we had,” Hill said. DSHS asked that he not be around vulnerable children while the case was pending, she said.
That caused Jones — whose real name is Ben Fodor — to lose his job working with autistic kids ranging from age 4 to 18, according to Publicola. “I had to leave work in the middle of the day,” he told the website. “It was embarrassing.”
Hill clarified that Fodor is not permanently disqualified from working with kids, but the agency wanted to “err on the side of caution” by telling his employer about the assault investigation.
Fodor, 23, was arrested the morning of Oct. 9 after police said he interjected himself into a crowd near the Alaskan Way Viaduct and pepper-sprayed innocent people. Fodor, who speaks to media as Phoenix Jones, has said he was trying to break up a fight and was later assaulted.
Fodor was released on bond just after noon the day he was arrested. On Oct. 13, he said he was not guilty of a crime. He has not been charged in the case.
But Fodor could still be charged with assault, and a spokeswoman for City Attorney Pete Holmes, Kimberly Mills, said this week that a final decision has not been made. People who are convicted of assault are prohibited by law from jobs working with vulnerable adults and children.
Employers are required to background-check people who work with developmentally disabled children and adults. People who do not pass the background check are put on a state list disqualifying them from such jobs.
Fodor could go back to his job if the case is dropped and he is not convicted, Hill said.
Often an attention seeker, Fodor went to his Oct. 13 court hearing with a mask, but had to take it off inside the courtroom. He revealed himself outside court as television cameras rolled, but didn’t talk then about the alleged assaults.
“I think I have to look toward the future and see what I can do to help the city,” he told reporters.
Police say he should not interject himself in situations, but should call 911. Fodor promised he’d be back on “patrol” soon.
Fodor also goes by “Flattop” when he fights in the local mixed martial arts scene.
Speaking as the costumed Phoenix Jones Guardian of Seattle, Fodor has told reporters he was breaking up a fight during the Oct. 9 incident.
Police say he barged into the situation — something they say he’s done in several other cases — and assaulted the women and men with pepper spray.
Video of the incident shows two women chasing Fodor and a man with face paint, hitting them and telling the self-proclaimed superheroes to leave.
A woman in the group admitted she hit him, but only after he used pepper spray on her friends for no reason, she said.
“He says, ‘I’m a superhero’ and sprays everyone,” the woman told KING/5. “Nothing gives him a right to do that. That’s harassment and assault.”
Seattle firefighters were called to treat those affected by the pepper spray during the incident. Fodor has said he is the actual victim.
While dressed as Phoenix Jones at an August Belltown community meeting, Fodor promoted the use of pepper spray for self defense.
A spokesman for Phoenix Jones, Peter Tangen, said last month that it appears the officer who arrested Jones had an agenda and that, when Jones said he was assaulted, the officer laughed at him. He also said police have refused to take statements from two people who were following Jones.
“I think the biggest story here is that the SPD didn’t really follow protocol in any way, shape or form,” Fodor told KOMO/4 as Phoenix Jones last month.
A police incident report shows police spoke to two people who were with Fodor at the scene.
At least one cameraman typically follows Fodor as he walks around Seattle in his black and yellow costume, and both people were said to have been there to document the self-proclaimed superhero’s activities.
“That video began in the area of 1 Av/Columbia St looking to the west,” the report from Officer Hosea Crumpton states. “On the video a group of people could be seen on Columbia St looking to the west. The group was gathered, but there did not appear to be a fight. A/Fodor could be seen running into the group and engaging the subjects. A/Fodor could be seen pepper spraying several individuals in the group. People in the group then turned on A/Fodor and chased him away.”
The cameraman who took that video, Ryan McNamee, initially told seattlepi.com in an email that “police have not contacted me for a statement and has not shown any interest in my footage or what the other journalist and I saw.”
Asked about the police report in which officers describe the video, McNamee said that “police glanced at my camera for a couple of seconds but didn’t examine the footage or ask to see it in any detail.”
However, based on the time-stamp on the footage, the police report describes about a minute of the video, which McNamee posted online.
Download a PDF copy of the Seattle police incident report.
Fodor is also known as the mixed martial arts fighter “Flatttop.” According to mixedmartialarts.com, Fodor’s won his first official amateur fight in December 2006 and had his last win in July 2010. His record is 11-0, and his last fight ended in a two-round TKO.
A Seattle Twitter account, @FlattopFodor, describes Fodor as the current two-time Ax Lightweight Champion and current welterweight champion in Washington. The last tweet from the account was Aug. 5, 2010.
As Phoenix Jones, Fodor “has a history of injecting himself in these incidents,” Crumpton wrote in the alleged assault report. “Recently there have been reports of citizens being pepper-sprayed by (him) and his group. Although (the man) has been advised to observe and report incidents to 911, he continues to try and resolve things on his own.
“There was a report earlier in the night in which several nightclub patrons had been reportedly been pepper-sprayed by (him) during some type of disturbance. Those people left the area before they could be contacted by police. Officers arriving on that call noted the odor of pepper spray was still in the air.”
In November 2010, Seattle police officers were alerted to Phoenix Jones and other self-described superheroes, after officers were confused by their presence at crime scenes.
Officers had learned the identity of Jones before the bulletin was distributed. The “superheroes’ ” story – often compared to the movie “Kick Ass” – exploded in popularity after seattlepi.com first reported on an internal police bulletin, which said the characters drove a Kia registered to one superhero’s godmother.
Seattlepi.com did not initially name Fodor because he wasn’t the subject of a criminal investigation. Fodor does not have any other criminal charges in Seattle. He was previously arrested in Washington after being stopped driving with a suspended license, according to court records.
For more Seattle police and crime news visit the front page of the Seattle 911 blog.