A Salt Lake couple filed a $3.3 million lawsuit against Salt Lake City Friday for a beating they claim a Salt Lake police officer administered last fall to the handcuffed husband while another officer restrained the wife from getting help.
Darin and Rebecca Walker filed the suit in 3rd District Court, detailing a beating allegedly inflicted by officer Dennis C. Huie on Darin Walker. The suit says the beating included blows from a metal night stick, fist blows to the face and back, throwing Darin Walker down one flight of stairs, shoving him down two additional flights and slamming his face into the windshield of a police car.The suit alleges that Salt Lake Officer Roderic H. Hunt held Darin Walker down for part of the beating and kept Rebecca Walker from getting help during the beating. An unnamed Salt Lake police dispatcher is also a defendant in the suit.
The couple seeks compensatory and punitive damages for actions the officers and dispatcher took on the night of Sept. 13, 1990. The suit also accuses the officers of false arrest and unreasonable search of the couple's home.
According to the suit, Walker suffers lasting neurological damage from head injuries and permanent impairment of his wrist and back.
Salt Lake City police investigated the incident last fall and concluded Huie's conduct violated department procedure. Salt Lake Police Lt. Norman C. Thompson sent the couple a letter in December telling them their complaint of excessive force against Huie had been verified by the department's Internal Affairs Unit. "Appropriate action is being taken in this matter," he said in the letter.
When contacted by the Deseret News, Thompson and Salt Lake Police Chief Michael P. Chabries refused to say whether Huie had been disciplined. Such information is not public, Thompson said. Both officers remain on active duty, he said.
According to the suit, Carmen Williams called the Salt Lake Police Department at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 13 to say that there might be trouble at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca and Darin Walker.
The suit said the dispatcher erroneously reported over the radio to officers that Darin Walker was giving his wife a "bad time," calling it a family fight.
When the officers arrived at the Walker home, Darin Walker was kneeling on the floor sorting his baseball card collection, the suit said. Rebecca Walker told the police everything was fine. The police insisted on entering the home and demanded Darin Walker's name. When he refused to answer, the officers threw him on a couch and handcuffed him, without ever telling him he was arrested or giving a reason for an arrest, the suit said.
After Walker was handcuffed, "Officer Huie repeatedly struck Darin with a metal club . . . Officer Hunt then held Darin down on the floor and Officer Huie punched Darin in the face, causing Darin to lose consciousness.
"At that point, Rebecca attempted to call the police for help. Huie ripped the phone cord out of the wall and threatened Rebecca with (his metal object) if she made further attempts to summon help."
Huie threw the handcuffed Walker down a flight of stairs while Hunt restrained and threatened Rebecca, the suit said.
"Huie repeatedly slugged Darin in the back as he dragged and pushed him . . . to his police car. Once they reached Huie's police car, Huie grabbed Darin by the back of the head and slammed his face into the windshield, threatening him with further violence."
Police later took Darin Walker to University Hospital where he was treated for his injuries, the suit said.
The suit accuses the Salt Lake Police Department of permitting dispatchers to exaggerate citizen complaints and allowing officers to use excessive force.
The Walkers demand a jury trial.