OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) — A viral video out of Ogden over the weekend appears to show Ogden police officers hitting a man they have on the ground. The police chief now says their investigation into the incident finds the officers justified in their actions.
Ogden Police chief held a press conference stating it was constitutional and released the body camera footage. The suspect, Shawn Sims, 30, claimed otherwise, and now an attorney representing Sims said he believes the officers’ actions were unconstitutional.
A witness named Keaton Fuller said he driving his car when he saw the interaction between the police and a man on Washington Blvd in Ogden. While at a stop sign, Fuller said he used his phone to film part of the interaction. His video showed officers hitting the man while he was on the ground.
“I don’t want to make any accusations until the police come out with their story,” Fuller said. However, he continued, “If you already have him down with four or five guys on top of him, I just didn’t see the need for that aggressiveness.”
This afternoon, Chief Eric Young with the police department held a press conference (watch full address here) to address the incident. During the meeting, he showed the body camera footage of two of the officers involved, as well as a mugshot of Sims.
“Our society has a lot of issues now with mental health and drug addiction and a lot of times officers are the ones in front of those situations trying to resolve those problems,” stated Chief Young. “Situations can turn ugly and, unfortunately, our officers were in a bad situation. I hope our officers, or that individual, doesn’t have to deal with that again.”
Young said the internal investigation found that officers acted according to both department procedure and state law. Nonetheless, he requested that Weber County launch its own investigation into the incident to ensure that no laws were broken.
Young broke down the moments leading up to officers using force on Sims. He said Sims was walking down Washington Blvd on the white line that divides the three northbound lanes from the shoulder. He said officers tried to stop him when Sims attempted to run.
Officers continued to give Sims orders to stop but he refused. Sims then made a gesture that allegedly made him look like he had a gun, by putting his hand into his pants. Officers then forced him to the ground.
Young told the press that Sims’s actions are classified as “active aggression.” He added: “Officers are able to respond with whatever force necessary at that time to bring the situation quickly under control.”
Once on the ground, Sims’ hands were under his stomach. Officers can be heard (in the body cam video) yelling at Sims to give them his hands. Believing he still had a gun, officers punched and tazed Sims until he removed his hands, allowing them to cuff him. Young said this part of the interaction lasted, at most, 20 seconds. Young said as far as the police department knows, Sims suffered some fractured facial bones and bleeding behind the eye.
“They can’t beat him to a pulp,” Robert Sykes told ABC4. Sykes is the attorney representing Sims. “He may be blind for life because of this. It’s gross use of excessive force. It’s unconstitutional.” Sykes told ABC4 that they will soon be filing a case against the police officers involved.
Marsha Quintana, Sims’ mother, plans to be actively involved in the case as it moves forward. She was with Sykes during his interview with ABC4. When asked what she thinks of all this, she replied, “This is very heartbreaking. All of this is very heartbreaking. I’m worried about my son’s vision. I’m not worried about the case. I just want to see justice served.”
The police department also released a phone call between Quintana and Sims made at the Weber County Jail. In the call, Sims tells his mother: “I did the stupid-a** finger thing, again.” To which she replied, “So you were pretty messed up?” He said, “I was pretty f**** up. I was basically under everything under the sun. From meth to MDMA and stuff.”
Chief Young said once the officers had Sims in custody, they found that he didn’t have a weapon on him. However, he was found to be under the influence of several drugs including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. At the time of the arrest, Sims was on probation for drug use after being arrested for failure to stop at the command of law enforcement, as well as violation of a protective order.