Salt Lake police administrators are investigating allegations that an officer may have been involved in a gay-bashing incident late last month while he was off duty.
Although prosecutors have declined to file any criminal charges against the officer, police officials are considering taking administrative action against him because he did not report the incident or arrest those he may have seen commit the alleged crimes.A Salt Lake man told police he was sitting in his truck on 300 South between State and Main streets - an area frequented by homosexuals - about 2 a.m. on Feb. 23 when he saw two men approach another man on the sidewalk and start to harass him.
John Martin, 26, told the Deseret News that one of the two men had a beer bottle and threw it at the third man. "It looked like they were going to bash this gay guy who was walking around," he said.
"I tooted my horn lightly so they would know that someone was there watching them . . . and then they turned on me."
Martin said the men began swearing and yelling at him. One of them "flashed a gold-star badge" at him, told him he was a police officer and that he should leave because he was loitering, he said.
While this was happening, Martin said a truck with the license plate "Big Mud" drove up to the three of them and the driver yelled, "Hey faggots! What are you doing, faggots?" Martin said the driver and the other two men were laughing and joking with each other.
The personalized license plate is registered to a 1962 GMC truck owned by Salt Lake police officer Roger K. Williams, according to the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles. Williams, 24, has been with the Police Department since September of 1988.
Martin said the man in the truck then drove away. He said one of the men then reached into his vehicle and tried to take the keys while the other man started letting air out of his tires. When the man couldn't get Martin's keys, he punched Martin in the side of the head. Both men then smashed the windows out of his camper.
According to Martin, the men then ran to Main Streetand got into a parked truck - the same truck that had stopped before with the "Big Mud" plates. Martin followed them until they eventually drove away. He then drove home and called the Police Department.
Charges were filed Wednesday against Troy E. Perry, 24, and Scott M. Angus, 22. Both were charged with criminal mischief, a Class B misdemeanor, and Perry, who is accused of striking Martin, was also charged with assault, a Class B misdemeanor. Court documents state both men intentionally damaged Martin's vehicle and caused $400 damage.
Bud Ellett, chief of the justice division of the Salt Lake County attorney's office, said no charges will be filed against Williams, however. He said the county attorney's office "couldn't find where he was involved in the assault and actual damage to the vehicle. He was in the truck and never did get out of the truck."
Ellett said there was not enough evidence to file charges of obstruction of justice against Williams, but he said the officer had an obligation to either arrest the two, file a police report or inform another officer to file a report.
"Of course he should have arrested them on the spot, but because they were his friends he didn't do anything," Ellett said.
Martin identified the officer and one of the assailants through photographs he was shown by Internal Affairs officers. Their investigation was completed Friday and given to the division commander, Capt. Shirley Whitworth.
"It's just being looked into at this point," she told the Deseret News. "We just haven't yet made a decision."
Lt. Col. Robert Nievaard said no action has been taken against Williams, who continues to work as a patrol officer for the department. He, Chief Michael Chabries and Whitworth will review the investigation and determine if any administrative action is necessary.
Williams didn't return calls to him at the police station and has an unpublished home phone number.
Assaults on gays
Last year, 377 homosexuals were verbally or physically attacked in Utah, according to findings of the Anti-Violence Project of the Gay and Lesbian Community Council of Utah.
Through personal interviews last December and reports taken from a 24-hour phone line, the organization documented 172 incidents of verbal harassment and 205 incidents of physical violence, including 24 cases of assault, 14 rapes or sexual assaults and 31 cases of being chased or followed.