Owasso Cop Fired For Excessive Force Speaks Out About Video
OWASSO, Oklahoma - The city of Owasso released videos of an arrest Tuesday—videos that cost an officer his job.
He's since won his job back, but now that the video is public, the officer wants to make sure his side of the story is heard.
Lieutenant Mike Denton was accused of excessive force involving a man arrested for being drunk in public.
He said the video doesn't tell the whole story.
"People want to think I'm some rogue cop. No!" Denton said.
Denton said he didn't smack a handcuffed, drunken suspect with his elbow because the guy was running his mouth.
Denton said he was protecting himself.
"The guy was getting ready to spit on me," Denton said. "That's why I did what I did. It's a defensive tactic; it's self defense."
Denton's attorney, Pat Hunt, said it was a health concern and spitting on an officer is a felony.
"He says his words, you can see him collecting in his mouth, as he progresses forward, he looks down and to the left; then you can hear him go 'whoop,'" Denton said.
Denton said he used the back part of his arm - not the actual elbow - to hit suspect, Bryan Spradlin's face three times.
"There's nothing punitive about it," Denton said. "All it is, is to distract him to make him not think about what he was going to do. I'm not going to let him spit on me."
The June 2011 incident was recorded by cameras on the officers' uniforms.
The video also shows Spradlin refusing to walk, causing a tumble, and Denton putting his foot on the suspect's head.
It prompted another officer and the suspect to complain that Denton used excessive force.
The department fired Denton.
But he and the police union filed a grievance, and an arbitrator ordered the city to give Denton his job and back pay.
The ruling states, "Denton's misconduct was unnecessary and unreasonable, but was not excessive force."
"I've been doing it long enough, I'm not going to second guess myself," Denton said. "I'm going to proactively defend myself."
Denton is recovering from surgery on his shoulder, but says he's excited to get back to work.
Denton will be given a written reprimand as punishment.
The arbitration decision reinstates him with Owasso Police, but a spokesman told us, "the police administration is still considering their options."