CRIME, POLICE + COURTS
Ogden police investigating video showing punches thrown by officers
Apr 24, 2023, 6:10 AM | Updated: 3:51 pm
(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)
OGDEN, Utah — A video showing an incident with Ogden police officers raises questions over the officers’ conduct.
Pulling up to the stoplight on Washington Boulevard and 17th Street in Ogden, Utah, on Saturday evening, Keaton Fuller looked over to see police attempting to arrest a man as he walked on the road.
Fuller said he had seen the man walking along the road earlier as Fuller pulled into the Mister Car Wash on the corner. It was when he left the car wash and pulled up to the light, he explained seeing a police car with its lights on following the man slowly as the man walked away from the vehicle and along the road.
“I see the guy running across the street,” Fuller recounted of what happened next. “And then the police officer got out of his car and started booking it towards him.”
Fuller looked down to get his cell phone out, saying he hadn’t seen something like this outside of TV or the news. He pulled his phone camera up and zoomed in.
“There was just four police on top of him, and then already pinned down,” he said, describing what he saw. “And I don’t know if he had anything lethal, or threatening, or whatever he did, but he was already pinned down.”
It wasn’t until Fuller later watched the video that he saw a different kind of interaction as he noticed two of the four officers punching the man repeatedly.
“One of the officers just going hard at him, right? And then he stops, and then the one to his left started going, taking turns or something,” Keaton recalled.
In the video, it appears the first officer throws four or five punches in rapid succession, and then the second one follows with at least a half dozen more.
“It looks pretty, after re-watching, it looks pretty bad and brutal, right?” Keaton expressed. “I didn’t take the video to throw shade or anything to anyone– especially the police–, but like I said, I don’t know the reason why he got taken down.”
Chris Burbank, retired Salt Lake City Police Chief and Vice President of the Center for Policing Equity, watched the video, shook his head, and then put the phone on the table right after seeing the punches.
“I got to be real honest, I’ve seen enough,” he expressed.
Burbank said that many officers should be able to contain one individual without striking them that many times.
“He’s not resisting in any way, shape, or form. He’s lying on the ground; an officer is kneeling on him. And they repeatedly punch him? That is unacceptable,” he said.
Burbank said he watches thousands of uses of force cases as part of his work for the Center for Policing Equity and reviews police practices to determine what causes an outcome. He explained that he is an expert witness on cases, reviewing uses of force nationwide and internationally.
Burbank expressed being troubled by what he sees in Keaton’s video, even if he isn’t able to see what led up to it.
“This individual is on the ground—I don’t care what happened before that. This is just punitive,” he said. “And that is not the role of policing, never has been, and absolutely should never be. There is no excuse for this.”
KSL TV found a probable cause statement matching the exact location and time of Saturday’s incident. However, Ogden Police would not confirm if that statement was from the same incident as the one they are investigating.
In that probable cause statement, officers state that the person “continued to stiffen his arms and keep them under his person despite officers giving him verbal commands to provide his hands.”
“There absolutely was a time when you could strike somebody who was not compliant with you, who wouldn’t put their hands behind their back,” Burbank explained. But, he added that “it was never acceptable” for multiple officers to beat on one individual.
Burbank said what happens now is even more important than the incident itself, seeing how the police administration responds, deals with the officers, and moves forward.
Ogden Police released this statement acknowledging the incident:
“The Ogden Police Department is aware of a use of force incident involving our officers, which a bystander filmed. The department had begun an After-Action Use of Force investigation prior to the release of the bystander video. We will report those findings and all available Body Worn Camera footage as soon as possible.”
Ogden PD said Sunday they cannot comment further because they are still investigating what happened and determining the facts of the case.
Keaton will be watching for that information to come out.
“I’m honestly just waiting for the story behind their side, the police officer side,” he expressed. “I just want to know what really is happening, why they did what they did.”
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