OWASSO, OKLAHOMA – Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray announced Thursday that the city will seek to overturn an arbitrator’s decision and once again terminate a police officer accused of using excessive force during an arrest.
The incident began more than a year ago, when Lt. Mike Denton and other officers were attempting to subdue Bryan Scott Spradlin, a Collinsville resident arrested on a complaint of public intoxication.
The June 30, 2011 arrest was captured on multiple video recording systems worn by the officers involved.
Denton is seen hitting Spradlin in the face three times in video obtained by KRMG and posted below.
The city terminated Denton, an 18-year veteran, in November, citing the use of excessive force.
But Denton appealed, and a grievance hearing was held in March, after which arbitrator Edward Valverde ruled in the lieutenant’s favor.
The arbitrator found that while Denton’s use of force was “unreasonable and unnecessary,” but that firing him was “excessive” and not called for in the circumstances.
Denton’s attorney, Patrick Hunt, told KRMG the arbitrator “truly is neutral. He heard two days of witness testimony and evidence and then he made a decision that the termination was not warranted, and should be reduced to a written reprimand. It really is that simple.”
But at least one city councilor doesn’t agree.
Ward 4 Councilman Patrick Ross told KRMG Wedensday he wants Denton gone, saying “from my own personal standpoint, I would support the termination of Lt. Denton and I would oppose his reinstatement.”
Ray said when he first saw the video, he “went home and cried.” He was extremely upset for the city and for all the officers whose behavior over the years has been exemplary.
Ironically, the video devices worn by the officers who captured the incident had only been issued and put into use that very day.
It was one of the other arresting officers who made the complaint against Denton and brought it to the attention of his superiors.