Utah man who nearly cut officer’s ear off sues police, alleging excessive force

SALT LAKE CITY — A man who recently pleaded guilty to almost slicing a Salt Lake City police officer’s ear off has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against that officer claiming he used excessive force first.

Leon Dane Hall, 25, of Salt Lake City, filed a civil lawsuit in federal court Monday against Salt Lake City officers Conrad Leong, Tyler Bang, Cody Wilkes, Miles Southworth and Livsey Harrison, claiming his constitutional rights were violated when police used “unlawful detention and brutal, violent use of force and excessive force against Mr. Hall when no force at all was necessary and the physical altercation was instigated by one of the officers.”

On Feb. 2, 2016, Salt Lake police responded to reports of a man banging on doors at the Pauline Apartments late at night. Officers originally claimed Hall refused to give them his name or personal information. When the officers attempted to take him into custody, Hall resisted and shouted for the officers to stop touching him, according to charging documents.

As they attempted to push Hall into a patrol car, he began swinging at them and screaming. The officers attempted to bring Hall into compliance by using their batons on his chest and legs as he yelled “Stop!” and “Help!” the charges state.

As Hall and an officer fell to the ground during the struggle, Hall pulled out an 18-inch cast-iron lawn ornament with jagged edges and swung it at officers, nearly severing officer Bang’s ear. It eventually took five officers to arrest Hall.

The encounter was recorded by a bystander from an upper-story window. Release of the video sparked a public outcry over whether the officers used excessive force in their arrest.

“My little brother Leon Hall is in jail for cutting off part of a police officer’s ear during an altercation. Is what he did OK? Not at all. Did the cop excessively beat him? … Yes,” Hall’s brother, Eli Hall, posted on Facebook.

In December, Hall pleaded guilty to two counts of assault on a peace officer. As part of his plea deal, his charges were reduced from second-degree to third-degree felonies, while an additional count of interfering with an arresting officer, a class B misdemeanor, was dismissed. In February he was sentenced to a suspended prison term, given credit for time served in jail, and ordered to be screened for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

On Monday, Hall claimed it was the police who escalated an otherwise peaceful situation and unlawfully detained him and used excessive force.

Prior to police approaching him, Hall said he was already shaken that night because he “had been beat up, and left seriously injured, in a violent hate crime inflicted against him because he is gay; and, as a result, has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder,” according to his lawsuit. “Mr. Hall has also been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, PTSD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); and also reports that he suffers from anxiety.”

In his lawsuit, Hall contends the five officers that arrested him had not received …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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