Orem Cop’s Firing for Excessive Use of Force Upheld

Unnecessarily Aggressive Officer

On September 19, 2009, Officer Dennis Nelson was asked to transport an individual who had been accused of interfering with the Utah County Major Crime Task Force (“the suspect”). When Nelson asked the suspect to remove a string bracelet from his wrist the suspect dropped it on the floor and said “it’s all yours” while making a gesture with his hands communicating the same message.  The suspect did not threaten Nelson in any other way. Nelson ordered the suspect to pick up the bracelet but he refused.

Nelson told him to “pick that f****ing thing up” and pushed the suspect toward the jail cells and while doing so pushed him into the door frame.  Nelson then pushed him through the door and threw him to the floor and called him an “a**hole.”  Nelson then stuck his knee in the suspect’s back and put his arm in a control hold. Nelson kept the suspect in control holds and kept his knees on his back.  The suspect said “I’m not gonna fight you dude…” but Nelson kept him on the floor in the control holds with his knees in his back for a total of three minutes and 42 second.  The suspect had difficultly breathing and his eye got cut when Nelson threw him to the floor, requiring two stitches.

Nelson Gets Fired

The Orem City Police Department fired Nelson for his use of force on the suspect as it violated the department’s use of force policy.  The Orem City Employee Appeals Board upheld the department’s decision to fire Nelson.  The Utah Court of Appeals upheld the Board’s decision as well.

Too often police officers become overly aggressive with criminal suspect and violate their rights as Nelson did in this case.  It is good to see that the entities entrusted to protect the public from violent cops made a responsible decision in this matter. Our Utah lawyers protect you from violent police officers as well.

To read the Utah Court of Appeals opinion in this case click here.