OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) — The mother of a man who was caught on video being punched by Ogden Police has filed a lawsuit Monday against all the officers involved, claiming that they have violated his fourth amendment by using excessive force.
On April 23, Ogden Police were caught on video repeatedly punching a man, later identified as Shawn Sims, 30, near South Washington Blvd. Ogden Police Chief Eric Young held a press conference two days later saying the officers’ use of force actions were constitutional and justified. Marsha Quintana, Sims’ mother, plans to be actively involved in the lawsuit as it moves forward.
According to Young, Sims was walking down Washington Blvd. on the white line that divides the three northbound lanes from the shoulder. When officers tried to stop Sims, he allegedly attempted to run.
Police say Sims then put his hand into his pants, which looked like he had a gun. That was when officers forced him to the ground. Young said Sims’ actions were classified as “active aggression,” which means officers are able to respond with whatever force necessary to bring the situation under control.
On the other hand, the lawsuit filed Monday, May 8, alleges that Sims was not threatening anyone when he was walking northbound on Washington Blvd. He did not act violently in any way, and he did not have any weapon, the complaint claimed.
According to the lawsuit, a police car began to follow Sims with lights flashing, so Sims turned to face the police with his hands in the air. The police officer in the vehicle, Zachary Young, allegedly claimed that Sims was using the roadway illegally.
Sims reportedly began to walk across Washington Blvd. and away from Officer Young’s vehicle, and that was when Officer Young stopped his car and pursued Sims.
A chase that allegedly lasted only a few seconds ensued. Sims then stopped and faced Officer Young. The lawsuit claims that Sims did not verbally threaten or attack the officer. Instead, Sims reportedly had one hand in the air and another hand holding up his pants.
“Young could tell that Sims was disoriented and potentially suffering from a mental health problem,” the lawsuit stated. “Young aggressively moved toward Sims, grabbing at his arms and torso, and initiated a forceful takedown.”
Within seconds of the “forceful takedown,” the lawsuit claims that Young and another officer “brutally” beat Sims by smashing his face into the pavement and punching him in the face, head, shoulders and back while he was pinned down to the ground. Two officers reportedly arrived at the scene later, and one of them joined the second officer in punching Sims about 15 to 20 times each for about 30 seconds.
The officers were also allegedly shouting “confusing” commands at Sims. Namely, asking him to get on his stomach, which he couldn’t given his position on the ground, according to the lawsuit.
“Because of his fears about the officers, Sims was forced to simply take the brutal force of the punches without saying anything or resisting,” the lawsuit stated.
Officers put Sims in handcuffs after they allegedly tased and beat him until he was nearly unconscious. After being taken to the emergency room, Sims was told he suffered four cracked ribs, fractured orbital sockets, broken nose and jaw, the lawsuit alleged.
At the time of his arrest, police say 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. However, the four officers involved allegedly did not know about his probation status when they made contact with him on Washington Blvd.
Other than violating Sims’ fourth amendment, the lawsuit also alleges other officers failed to intervene when they saw their coworkers hitting Sims. Other allegations the complaint brought forward include unlawful or deficient policies against Ogden City, failure to train and/or supervise Ogden Police, municipal liability, violation of state constitutional rights, and intentional or willful misconduct under Utah State Law.
Read the lawsuit below: