CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Salt Lake City Police release videos of airport officer assaults

Mar 22, 2022, 2:14 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 11:43 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Police Department released videos of two different airport division officer assaults on Tuesday. Both assaults happened this year at the Salt Lake City International Airport, the first in February and then another in March.

“These incidents show a total disregard for basic dignity and respect. This conduct can put our officers, airline passengers, and airport employees at risk, and I hope these types of assaults end now,” said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown.

“I’d like to recognize and thank our partners at TSA and Salt Lake City International Airport who responded quickly, maintained awareness of the airport during this incident, and directed other officers to the scene. Their partnership is vital to maintaining the welcoming, safe and efficient airport we have,” Brown added.

February incident

The first assault happened on Feb. 17, 2022, when police said a 28-year-old man rushed past TSA officers at the airport security checkpoint. Police say the man had no business at the airport and was not a ticketed passenger.

An officer with Salt Lake City Police saw the situation and intervened to stop the man. He resisted and punched and kicked the officer repeatedly.

An airline passenger reportedly saw the struggle and intervened to help the SLCPD officer. The passenger was later identified as a retired member of law enforcement

The SLCPD said it forwarded the case to the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution.

Here is the video released by SLCPD:

 

According to SLCPD, the footage begins after the man bypassed the TSA’s Travel Document Checking Podium at the entrance to the security checkpoint. The department said that portion of the video was not disclosed due to security and investigative purposes. 

The department also emphasized that the situation was not an airport security breach because the man did not get outside the screening area and there was no impact on airport operations.

March incident

The second assault was on March 12, when a 33-year-old man approached two SLCPD officers who were on the lower level of the airport.

As seen in the video at the top of the page, the man dropped his bag and punched one of the officers in the head. The man then appeared to try to punch the second officer but then immediately surrendered and put his hands up.

The officers took the man into custody and transported him to Salk Lake County Metro Jail on allegations of assaulting a police officer. SLCPD said it referred the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution. 

The man’s ticketing status is unknown pending an ongoing investigation.  Footage from one officer’s body-worn camera is at the top of this article.

“We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to the men and women who work day in and day out to ensure the safety of our airport passengers and employees,” said Bill Wyatt, executive director for Salt Lake City Department of Airports. “We are grateful for their dedication in serving the traveling public.”

Police said that the Salt Lake City International Aiport “remains a safe and efficient airport” despite the two assaults. 

“TSA is grateful to our airport law enforcement partners who play an important role in operations at SLC,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Utah, Matt Davis. “TSA takes a zero-tolerance approach to threats, verbal abuse, and physical violence of any kind against our employees. We have the same expectation for the SLCPD officers who work alongside us every day.”

The officers involved were not seriously injured and remained on the job after the situation.

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Salt Lake City Police release videos of airport officer assaults