A Salt Lake police officer linked to a recent gay-bashing incident was suspended Thursday without pay.
Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Chabries suspended Roger K. Williams, 24, for violating police policy requiring him to report criminal activities he becomes aware of. The officer failed to report an assault that allegedly was committed by his brother-in-law and best friend on Feb. 23."He used exceedingly poor judgment that night," the chief said. "I am convinced he deeply regrets what happened. He is deeply embarrassed."
Williams will be suspended without pay for 10 days and required to complete a fitness-for-duty evaluation. Chabries said Williams also will be transferred from his patrol duties "until such time as we are convinced this type of incident will not recur."
John Martin, 26, Salt Lake City, told police he was sitting in his truck on 300 South between State and Main streets - an area frequented by homosexuals - when two men began to harass him.
He said one of the men threw a beer bottle at a pedestrian who was walking in the area. He said he lightly tapped his horn to let the two men know he was watching them. The men then turned on him and began swearing and yelling, he said.
Martin told the Deseret News that while this was happening as 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?" He said the driver was laughing and joking with the other two men.
The personalized license plate is registered to a truck owned by Williams, who has been a Salt Lake police officer since September 1988.
Martin said the man in the truck then drove away, but the two others continued to harass him. One of the men punched him on the side of the head and both smashed the windows out of his camper.According to Martin, the two men then ran to Main Street and got into Williams' truck. Martin followed them until they eventually drove away. He went home and called police.
The Salt Lake County attorney's office investigated the incident and decided not to file any criminal charges against Williams. Bud Ellett, chief of the office's Criminal Justice Division, said Williams did not participate in the assault or cause damage to the vehicle.
But Williams' brother-in-law and friend were charged with class B misdemeanors for their participation in the incident. Troy E. Perry, 24, and Scott M. Angus, 22, were charged with criminal mischief. Perry also was charged with assault and is accused of striking Martin. They are scheduled to be arraigned in 3rd Circuit Court on April 10.
Chabries said his investigation was not able to substantiate Martin's claim that Williams called him a "faggot." He said, however, that the disciplinary action would have been the same had the officer used that word or not.
The chief said he contacted Martin on Thursday to review the incident and apologize to him. "His comment to me was, `Chief, I'm satisfied,' " he said. Chabries also delivered a letter from Williams apologizing for his actions.
Chabries said he met with members of the gay community last May and assured them he would investigate illegal conduct against or within that community. He said he hopes this incident will not harm future cooperation between the gay community and his department.
In making his decision, the chief said he wanted to be fair with both Williams and the gay community. "I've labored a great deal over this," he said.
Williams told police officials he did not witness the assault, but he was told what had occurred and did not report it or take any action. "He should have arrested them on the spot, but because they were his friends he didn't do anything," Ellett said.
The Internal Affairs Office of the Salt Lake Police Department investigated the incident and gave its report to Williams' division commander, Capt. Shirley Whitworth. Following procedure, she made a recommendation to Chabries, who made the final decision concerning disciplinary action.