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A Utah man alleges in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that an Ogden police officer trying to arrest him kneed him in the back so hard that the force broke three of his ribs and punctured a lung.
Guy Phillip Gailey, 43, says he already was laying facedown on the ground with his hands on his head when the officer put the full weight of his body behind his knee and "suddenly and violently" drove it into his back. When he screamed in pain and said he needed immediate medical attention, officers at the scene taunted him with remarks including, "Be a man" and "Aw, Guy, you aren't really hurt," according to his suit.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, accuses Officer Rylee Marble of the Ogden Police Department of violating Gailey's constitutional rights by using excessive force and seeks an unspecified amount of money in damages.
Lt. Danielle Croyle said the police department has not seen the lawsuit but that an internal review determined Marble acted appropriately.
In his incident report on the arrest, Marble said he slipped and fell on the grass, unintentionally kneeing Gailey in the back.
"As I was quickly approaching I observed Guy was getting on the ground and placing his hands above his head," Marble wrote in the report. "As I reached down to grab Guy's right hand, to place him in custody, my momentum caused me to slip in the grass; which carried me forward to where my left knee struck Guy in the lower right side of his body."
But the suit alleges that in approximately seven minutes of audio on dashcam and body cam footage that has been provided to Gailey's lawyer so far, "no one comments or talks about any alleged 'slip' or 'unintentional' injury to Gailey by Marble."
The footage was obtained from the police department by Gailey's attorney, Robert Sykes, under a Utah Government Records Access Management Act request. The faces of officers were blurred out by the department.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Sykes noted the officers on scene turned off the sound on their body cameras partway during the incident. The suit said that action "amounts to concealing evidence of Marble's misdeed."
Sykes also said he believes there was bad blood between the two men and that Marble was out to teach his client a lesson. At one point in the footage, an officer asks, "How many times you ran from me, Guy?"
The suit says Gailey was riding his bicycle south on Harrison Boulevard on the sidewalk at about 2:30 a.m. April 6 when an officer going north in a marked vehicle passed him, then turned around. The officer apparently intended to stop Gailey for the traffic infraction of riding his bike the wrong way on a sidewalk, according to the suit.
Marble, who was in his own police car, joined in the attempt to apprehend Gailey, the suit says.
"After some minutes, and a few seconds' distance from the officers, Gailey stopped, got off his bike, and said, 'I give up. I'm done,' and 'assumed the position' (i.e., got on the ground face down with his hands on his head)," the suit says.
A few seconds later, Marble arrived and ran toward Gailey, then "came down hard" on him, the suit says.
Sykes said officers at the scene refused to call for medical help initially and then sent the emergency medical responders away, eventually taking Gailey to the hospital themselves.
In an audio recording played at the news conference, Gailey said all of the air was knocked out of him and he felt as if someone had "put a sword in my side."
The recording was made this week by Sykes at a Weber County jail, where Gailey is serving sentences in unrelated cases.
Gailey had surgery to repair his punctured lung and was in a hospital for three days recovering, the suit says. It says his medical bills were about $30,000.
Sykes called the alleged assault "inexcusable."
"Citizens have a constitutional right not to have force used if force is not necessary," he said.
Gailey was sentenced June 1 in 2nd District Court to serve two jail terms of 365 days stemming from misdemeanors committed on Feb. 29, 2016, and last month, on May 17. Sykes said Gailey will complete his time in May 2018.
Court records show Gailey pleaded guilty in the 2016 case to a class A misdemeanor of failure to stop at the command of law enforcement and to class B misdemeanors of attempted tampering with evidence and interference with an arresting officer. He pleaded guilty in the May 17 case to failing to stop at the command of law enforcement.
No charges appear to have been filed in the April 6 incident.