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Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown has ordered a departmental investigation into a 2014 arrest during which a since-retired officer allegedly struck and profanely berated a woman after she spit on him during her arrest.
Also Wednesday, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his office and an outside police agency will investigate the case for possible criminal charges against the officer.
"The chief contacted me [Tuesday night] ... I said I appreciated his candor and we agreed this should be investigated," Gill said.
Brown told The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday that he first learned of the October 2014 incident when notified by staff Tuesday that the woman's daughter had posted a video of the arrest captured on the officer's body camera online.
During the arrest, in a driveway with the woman's distraught and crying 9-year-old daughter watching, the woman was taken to the ground, allegedly hit and possibly kicked, and repeatedly called "bitch" and "idiot" in conjunction with other vulgarities.
The officer also told the woman: "You deserve to have your ass kicked."
Said Brown, "From my perspective, and I, along with others in my office have probably looked at this video 100 times and in talking with other officers and supervisors our actions [in this arrest] are abhorrent, and our words are even worse.
"There was a strike, and the words were exchanged."
Brown said that late Tuesday night he ordered his Internal Affairs unit to immediately look into the matter, and also called Gill to fill him in. The actual body-cam video, Brown said, is "much longer," but the web video shows the worst of the incident.
Brown declined to identify the officer involved in the alleged excessive force episode, but he confirmed that he had retired for "normal reasons" on Oct. 29, 2015.
"We are doing a formal investigation," the chief said. "Before I make any further statements on [the officer's identity], I want to respect the due process involved."
The web video, however, identifies the officer as Tyler Reinwand.
Also, charging documents against the woman now-43-year-old Michelle Siguenza Anderson state that "Officer Reinwand" was the one who was spat upon.
The officer, Brown said, could face criminal proceedings if charged with assault by an officer.
"It's not what we would teach," Brown said. "It's not in our culture."
The video reportedly was provided to Anderson's family during her prosecution for misdemeanor counts of public intoxication and spitting on the officer.
"It did occur. That is our video tape," Brown said, assuring transparency throughout the impending process. "We don't back away from that."
Anderson was charged in November 2014 in 3rd District Court with the two misdemeanors. But Salt Lake City prosecutors dismissed the charges three months later, on March 17, 2015, the day a preliminary hearing was scheduled to occur.
Gill said Wednesday that city prosecutors "did the right thing" in dismissing the case because of the body-cam video.
"It's disturbing," he said. "It's not something you can show to a jury. It's a compromised case."
He also noted that Reinwand did not show up for the preliminary hearing, which gave them further reason to dismiss the case.
Gill reviewed the file which he said had a note attached not to refile the case Tuesday night after Brown called him, he said. As the district attorney, Gill also acts as the Salt Lake City prosecutor, after an agreement reached in September 2015, and has access to the cases in that office. If the use-of-force incident merits a felony charge, the D.A.'s office handles it. A misdemeanor charge would go to Salt Lake City prosecutor's office.
But Gill added that the case "didn't end up back where it needed to be ... back before the police."
There was likely a breakdown of communication, he said, and the footage was not forwarded on to the police agency.
A probable-cause statement accompanying the charges against Anderson does not mention any of the alleged violence that occurred after she spit on the officer. The narrative ends by saying that Anderson "spat in Officer Reinwand's face" after being placed in handcuffs, and that "Anderson was known to officers from prior encounters."
How long the family had the 8-minute, 14-second clip was unknown, but her daughter, Jasmine Anderson, posted it Tuesday online.
Brown is "really concerned," he said at a news conference Wednesday, over how long it took for the incident to come to his department's attention. Brown became SLCPD's chief on May 3, replacing Chief Chris Burbank, who was forced to step down after heavy criticism for his handling of sexual harassment complaints by three female officers.
"This happened on Oct. 10, 2014, and if this [arrest] is not 'good' today, then why did we think it was 'good' back then?" Brown said. "Is it only bad if we get caught?"
Gill said since September and during the 10 years he worked at the Salt Lake City prosecutor's office when a case is dismissed, the protocol is to explain the circumstances to supervisors, who then relay the message up the chain of command.
But rather than speculate about what may have happened under the jurisdiction of his predecessor, he said, his focus now is to "get this done."
At the arrest scene with Reinwand was his partner, who still works for SLCPD. A sergeant also came to the scene to review the arrest of the woman, checking whether departmental policy was followed, Brown said. That sergeant, also unnamed by the chief, is still employed with SLCPD.
"My question, then, is why didn't this come to light back then? That will be part of our review now," Brown said. "Our review process failed us that night," he added at the news conference.
The chief said he also had met with his supervisors to implement a new "internal review" process for periodic, random reviews of footage from the department's 240 police body cams, in hope of more quickly spotting problems and taking appropriate actions.
"I really feel that this is an outlier; this is an anomaly," Brown told members of the media. "Our police department and our officers are better than that."
Police initially were called about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2014, Brown said, by Jasmine Anderson, who was worried about her mother being intoxicated and the status of her younger sister. The first call ended with police issuing Michelle Anderson a warning, but officers went back about 1 a.m. on a renewed domestic-disturbance report.
In the body-cam video, the arrest initially appears to be routine, with the officer reminding Michelle Anderson that he earlier had warned her that she would be taken into custody if they had to return.
"She's going to jail?" the 9-year-old girl asks, and then runs to her mother to give her a hug.
Shortly thereafter, the woman allegedly spits on the officer, and the video shows her being taken to the ground, face first. "You little bitch. ... You [expletive] spit on me," the officer says.
The woman was fitted with a spit mask at one point, which Brown said is standard procedure to ensure officers don't come in contact with fluids that could contain contagions, such as hepatitis.
The girl, being gently coaxed by another officer to pick up her toys, is heard crying repeatedly. Anderson, lying on the ground, asks officers repeatedly to "please stop," telling them "I can't breathe" and, "I won't do it again." She cries and screams while the daughter hovers nearby, watching the exchange.
"This is a tragic situation," Brown said. "And not only for the woman arrested and hit, but for her daughter, Jasmine, who had called in ... and I really feel bad for the little 9-year-old girl who witnessed this whole thing."
Paramedics examined Michelle Anderson at the scene of her arrest, police said, and she was taken to the Salt Lake County jail but jail officers refused to book her, due to unspecified minor injuries.
Neither Michelle nor Jasmine Anderson could immediately be reached for comment.
On her Facebook page, Jasmine Anderson said she had received the video clip in an email from an undisclosed source Monday.
"I cannot put into words the horror I felt seeing that video," she wrote, in part. "I believe that the officers in this video were not right in their actions. They were wrong to resort to violence when it was unnecessary. They were wrong to hit a mother, my mother, in front of a child."
"They SHOULD be held responsible. I hope they will [be]," Anderson added.
While calling for more study of "police corruption and brutality," she allowed that, "Not every officer uses violence. Not all of them feel the need to use their power against the people they have sworn to protect.
"So rather then hating all police officers, we need to focus our energies on finding the corrupt and power hungry and remove them from their place of power," she added. "Because whether they are good or bad, they are humans just like us."
In echoing that statement, Brown said Tuesday that officers are "human, too. There are things and situations that push our buttons; perhaps we're having a bad day."
Twitter: @remims, @courtneyltanner