It may have been an intense, loud, in-your-face argument, but law enforcement officials have determined that developer Dell Loy Hansen's City Hall bout with Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson was not criminal.
South Salt Lake deputy attorney Janice Frost, in a letter to Salt Lake City prosecutor Sim Gill, said that she found no cause for charging Hansen with assault, battery or disturbing the peace in connection with the June 12 shouting match between Hansen and Anderson at the City-County Building.
"It is clear that Mr. Hansen waited for the mayor to exit the meeting to confront him," Frost's letter reads. "He certainly invaded Mr. Anderson's personal space."
But under city code, which defines assault and battery as a willful use of violence and force, Hansen's actions do not "fit the definitions of either crime," Frost wrote.
Anderson's office had asked for an investigation into whether charges were justified, but in response to Frost's decision Wednesday, the mayor said the more important result was holding Hansen to account.
"I'm not really interested in any legal action, but I think Dell Loy Hansen and others need to know that they cannot go around butting people with their stomachs or grabbing them physically, whether it's the mayor, a custodian or a constituent, without being held to account," Anderson said.
"He butted me right up against the wall," the mayor said. "I was recovering from recent knee surgery, and he was obviously out of control. Dell Loy's learned a lesson he should have learned as a child."
In a statement released by his spokesman, Hansen praised Frost's decision.
"I appreciate that the investigation was conducted objectively and professionally," he said. "I was absolutely confident a fair outcome would be reached."
Hansen and Anderson's face-off came after a meeting in which Anderson asked the City Council, acting as the board of the Redevelopment Agency, to reconsider a $6 million loan to Hansen's Wasatch Property Management for a planned 21-story office tower at 222 S. Main Street.
Anderson accused Wasatch of having abused a previous RDA loan related to the developer's purchase of the Wells Fargo Center on Main Street.
Hansen announced at the meeting that Wasatch was pulling out of the 222 S. Main project, making Anderson's request moot. But in the hallway after the meeting, Hansen confronted the mayor, his face inches away from Anderson's, suggesting that the mayor was anti-Wasatch because of Hansen's conservative political views.
At one point, Hansen grabbed Anderson's arm, and the mayor pulled back, shouting, "I'll kick your ass." Frost's letter says the grabbing was not assault.
"Even Mayor Anderson's description of the event does not suggest that there was any use of force or violence, nor were any threats made to commit a violent injury upon him," Frost wrote.
She also looked into whether there was cause for charges against Anderson and found that "there is no evidence that the mayor assaulted Mr. Hansen. He did state that he would kick Mr. Hansen's 'ass,' but this was a result of his being touched by Mr. Hansen."
Frost was asked to screen the case because of potential conflicts of interest if Gill's office were to conduct the investigation. In addition to Gill's working relationship with Anderson, he also ran unsuccessfully against Lohra Miller in 2006 for the county district attorney's job, and Hansen was a major financial supporter of Miller's.
Gill said he believes Frost conducted the probe fairly.
"My job was to make sure that the case was put together and reviewed in an objective manner," Gill said.Comment on this story
Frost's decision was based on an investigation carried out by Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Don Hutson, who spoke with a number of eyewitnesses, including a Deseret Morning News reporter and members of Anderson's and Hansen's staffs. He also reviewed security-camera video footage released by the city.
He said he agreed with Frost's decision not to file charges."It was wrong and inappropriate," Hutson said of Hansen's actions. "I don't think any of us would condone any of the behavior." However, he added, it didn't "rise to the level of criminal."