Owasso, OK — Owasso police officer, Mike Denton, was fired in 2011 after body cam and surveillance footage showed him stomping on a handcuffed man’s head and then repeatedly elbowing him in the face.
The victim was Brian Spalding.
Spalding's arrest was caught on all of the officer’s lapel cams and paints a clear picture of excessive force, justifying the city's response of firing Denton.
However, the Fraternal Order of Police, who argued that Denton was simply “protecting himself” by stomping on a man’s head, nearly breaking both of his arms, and elbowing him. The FOP then filed a grievance which was heard by federal mediator Edward Valverde in March of 2012.
On Sept 22, 2014, keeping his rank and position, and back pay, Denton was reinstated. “He’s put back into the exact same role that he left under, which means that he is a lieutenant over a patrol shift,” Police Chief Scott Chambless told Tulsa World.
The city of Owasso has paid Denton more than $366,000 related to that firing.
Less than a year after being put back on duty, this problem cop was caught on film again. This time, he's seen ramming the barrel of his shotgun into the face of suspected car thief, Cody Mathews.
According to Tulsa World,
Cody Mathews, 25, of Glenpool, was arrested by Tulsa police Sunday after he led officers on a 45-minute pursuit that ended in Nowata County, authorities said. He had fled from police who attempted to stop a stolen 2014 Ford F-150 pickup about 7:35 p.m. in the 1000 block of North New Haven Avenue in Tulsa, Tulsa Police Cpl. Greg Smith said earlier this week.
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Mathews had been driving dangerously during the chase. He also had a 19-year-old woman in the truck with him who claimed she was forced into the truck. However, he was surrounded by a dozen cops, and his truck was stuck in the mud. The threat he posed at this time had diminished significantly.
Denton is seen on dashcam video walking up to the truck window and ramming the barrel of his rifle into the face of Mathews six times. Mathews is then pulled from the truck and Denton proceeds to dole out even more damage to the man after he's thrown to the ground.
Cody Mathews is no saint and he deserved to be punished for his criminal activity. However, this punishment is not supposed to come from Mike Denton, whose job is to uphold the law, not inflict pain.
At the end of the dashcam video, Denton can be seen walking by the camera -- smiling as he basks in his violent glory.
It now appears that this officer will actually be held accountable for his sadistic actions. On Friday, Nowata County prosecutors charged Denton, 49, with assault and battery with a deadly weapon, a felony, and reckless conduct with a firearm, a misdemeanor.
Tulsa World reports:
Denton used a shotgun to beat Mathews with “unlawful and felonious intent,” prosecutors claim in the charges. He demonstrated a “conscious disregard” for the safety of other law enforcement officers and created a “situation of unreasonable risk” by striking a uniformed Nowata police officer and Mathews with the end of a shotgun, according to the charges.
In considering the criminal counts, Kevin Buchanan, district attorney for Nowata and Washington counties, said he reviewed the Owasso Police Department’s use-of-force policy. He also said the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which conducted the investigation, spoke to Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training instructors who teach use of force at CLEET headquarters in Ada.
Only 4 years ago, this officer was caught on video essentially torturing a restrained man, and he was never charged with a crime. Now, after the public has become largely more aware of the problem with police brutality, he was not granted the same privilege.
Perhaps the tide is changing. Perhaps the public demand for police accountability is having an effect. One can certainly hope.