The Tulsa World obtained Owasso police videos Monday that captured Lt. Mike Denton three times applying an elbow to the face of Bryan Scott Spradlin, a Collinsville man who was arrested on a public intoxication complaint on June 30, 2011. The city fired Denton in November for using what it said was excessive force.
Mike’s attorney tried to justify the incident by claiming Bryan was going to attempt to spit on him. “Mike agrees, and I agree, that if you just look at that one video of the elbow smacks in the sally port and didn’t know anything else, it is excessive,” said Patrick Hunt, Denton’s attorney. “However, that’s not the whole story. The whole story is that he believed the fellow was going to spit on him, and he wanted to prevent him from doing that.”
Ruling after a March grievance hearing, arbitrator Edward B. Valverde reduced Denton’s firing to a written reprimand last month and ordered him reinstated. In a report this month, Valverde wrote that although Denton used “unreasonable and unnecessary force,” his actions did “not rise to the level of excessive force within the meaning of existing case law,” and the discipline imposed is “excessive under all the circumstances.”
Valverde ordered Denton, an Owasso police officer since 1994, reinstated immediately with back pay and benefits, less any interim earnings, documents indicate.
City Attorney Julie Lombardi said in an email that the city is deciding whether to allow Denton to go back to work or ask the district court to set aside the arbitrator’s decision on the grounds that he exceeded his authority and violated state public policy, she said. The city will announce its plans during a news conference at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
THIS IS BRUTAL. Probably NSFW.