SALT LAKE CITY — A newly released video shows a Democratic Utah House leader and a Republican state senator shoving each other in what appears to be a heated discussion in a Senate building hallway.
Both Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, and House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said the footage would corroborate their disparate accounts of the Oct. 3 altercation at the state Capitol. Thatcher lodged a criminal complaint against King.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office released the video in response to a request under the state Government Records Access and Management Act.
Citing a conflict of interest with King and Thatcher, Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill sent the case to a South Jordan prosecutor. But Gill, a Democrat, said Wednesday a conflict there returned it to his office for the moment. He said he is trying to "see if we can get a neutral review structurally for them both."
In the 42-second video clip, King is shown walking down a corridor away from the surveillance camera when Thatcher comes from another hallway and puts his hand on King's shoulder.
King places his hands just below Thatcher's armpits and shoves him toward a wall. Thatcher braces himself with one foot against the wall and pushes back. The two men stand face to face with King pointing his finger at Thatcher's chest but does not appear to make contact. Thatcher puts an arm up twice as King apparently lectures him for a few seconds and walks away.
Others in the hallway appear oblivious to the confrontation, including a Utah Highway Patrol trooper who glances at the two men down the hall as he passes by.
King admits he made contact with Thatcher, but not in the manner Thatcher has described. He said he didn't touch Thatcher after the initial push.
Thatcher described the incident as a "vicious" and "violent" assault. He called it a "full-on wrestle move." He said had he not put his foot against the wall, King would have slammed him into it.
In a statement to the UHP, which provides security at the Capitol, King wrote that he was irritated a few days earlier when Thatcher "angrily" wanted to know why he wasn't supporting his re-election campaign. He said it bothered him and he let Thatcher know it during the incident in the hallway.
"I told him he didn't have a clue what it was like to be in the superminority and he needed to stop acting like I owed him or any other Republican my support," he said.
Republicans own a supermajority in both the Utah House and Senate.
King, who was re-elected as House minority leader on Tuesday, said he apologized to Thatcher verbally and in text messages shortly after the incident, but that Thatcher won't accept his apology.17 comments on this story
Thatcher lodged a complaint with the state's human resources department but said he was told it was "powerless'' to deal with the situation because King is an elected official. He also talked with House and Senate leaders.
House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said that is inaccurate and human resources is involved in his review of the confrontation. Hughes, whose term in the Legislature ends in January, said he would have a decision on the incident before he leaves office. He said the criminal case has no bearing on his review process.