PROVO — Chris Lauridsen is a big proponent of individual rights. And he's got the bruises to prove it.
Monday around 12:15 p.m., Lauridsen said he was assaulted with nightsticks by several Provo police officers who arrived as backup on an animal cruelty call.
"I was totally surprised at being hit like that," the 56-year-old businessman said. "I had done nothing at all to deserve that."
Lauridsen said he and his wife had been in a bank in downtown Provo when one of the bank employees said there was a police officer near their car.
Lauridsen went out to check and was met by a female animal control officer who said she was investigating a call of animal cruelty because Lauridsen's two dogs were in the car.
It was a 40-degree day and Lauridsen opened the door to show her they were fine. The windows were cracked, and he had only been in the bank about 10 minutes.
"I did not try to be belligerent," Lauridsen said. "I tried to be authoritative."
He initially refused to hand over his driver's license but eventually gave it to the officer, telling her there was nothing more to investigate and that she should leave.
"At one point I attempted to explain to her that I was being mistreated and that she worked for me," he said. "She said no, she didn't, she worked for the city of Provo and I lived in Woodland Hills."
Lauridsen explained that he owns a business in Provo that brings in $1 million a year and employs 15 people.
"I don't deserve to be treated like that," he said.
And that's when she called for backup officers.
Lauridsen said he remembers at least four officers in four separate cars, and as the fourth officer arrived and approached Lauridsen, he had his hand on his nightstick.
"He said 'turn around.' I said 'no,' and he immediately laid into me with the nightstick," Lauridsen said. "He hit me in the chest. I lunged for him when he did that and was hit in the back of the head with another nightstick."
Lauridsen next remembers being on the ground, in handcuffs, with an officer on top of him, yelling at him to stop resisting. He finally ended up seated in a police car where he refused paramedics for his multiple bruises. He was cited with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer then released.
Provo Police Capt. Cliff Argyle said backup officers were called because of Lauridsen's argumentative nature.
"(The situation) degraded to the point that (the patrol officer) felt he needed to affect an arrest, and a physical altercation ensued," Argyle said.
Allegations of brutality are rare, the captain said, and an internal affairs officer is reviewing the case.
"It can be however long it takes," he said. "Of course, we'd prefer (the report) sooner than later."
Argyle said the city has no written policy that designates a step-by-step procedure on a call of animal cruelty.
"Animal control just goes there and assesses the situation," Argyle said. "If they see that cruelty to animals is occurring they would conduct that investigation."
Argyle said he didn't know why Lauridsen wasn't cited with animal cruelty.
"Usually if we do not cite or arrest someone, then there wasn't probable cause to believe that that crime had occurred," Argyle said.
Regarding the nightsticks, Provo has a use of force continuum that dictates which levels are appropriate in certain circumstances, he said.
A nightstick and a Taser are equal in force, Argyle said, and many officers carry both. However, the officers who responded were not equipped with Tasers.
Lauridsen said he has contacted the police department's internal affairs as well as city officials and is talking with attorneys.
"It is every man's right and duty to defend himself," Lauridsen said. "I feel very strongly about personal rights. That probably played into it. If I'd said, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry,' and allowed myself to be mistreated, it would not have escalated to the point it escalated to. But the fact is, if the same situation started right now, I wouldn't handle it any differently."
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