Owasso Officer Accused Of Excessive Force Awarded Thousands In Back Pay

Tuesday, July 21st 2015, 11:31 pm
By: News On 6

The city of Owasso voted on whether to give more money to a police officer on leave for a second time over accusations of using excessive force.

An arbitrator ruled the police department had to re-hire Lieutenant Michael Denton and pay him more than $280,000 in back pay.

The city also paid out thousands of dollars to the man seen in the video being elbowed in the face by Denton.

7/21/2015 Related Story: Council To Decide On Back Pay For Owasso Police Officer On Paid Leave

Tuesday night, city leaders had to decide whether to pay Denton interest on his back pay.

City Attorney, Warren Lehr, said city councilors had no other option but to approve the $35,000 be paid to the officer.

If they went against it, it would head to the courts - which the city said has failed them before with this case - and it would cost taxpayers even more.

The meeting at Owasso City Hall was just an ordinary council meeting until they got to agenda item number 15 where city councilors approved Denton be awarded $35,000 in back pay interest.

"We really had no choice. Going back through the appellate courts, they have shown not much interest in dealing with arbitrators’ decisions in the past, so we had no choice," Lehr said.

This is on top of more than $280,000 he's been paid in back pay, along with $47,000 in possible overtime fees.

Denton was fired for using excessive force in 2011 after security camera footage showed him elbowing a suspect three times in the face.

7/10/2012 Related Story: Owasso Cop Fired For Excessive Force Speaks Out About Video

He won his job back through arbitration and the court system - the arbitrator ruled he should have gotten a letter of reprimand instead of being fired.

Now, Denton is on paid leave after he was accused of using excessive force last month. Dash cam video shows Denton hitting a suspect with a shotgun multiple times.

6/17/2015 Related Story: Owasso Police Officer Investigated For Excessive Force Again

Even though that incident is still under investigation, it doesn't interfere with him being awarded thousands from the first case.

"It is a different case, but it does have some factor. We are certainly happy to wrap this case up. Now we have to move forward with this current investigation and see where it leads," said Lehr.

6/19/2015 Related Story: Video Shows New Angle Of Owasso Officer Accused Of Excessive Force

The City of Owasso and the Owasso Police Department have a collective bargaining agreement. It states if there's a dispute between the two entities, a third party arbitrator will rule on the case.

Between all the money paid to Denton and the legal fees associated with the first case, about $650,000 in taxpayer dollars has been spent.

With the second excessive force case against him still in the beginning stages, it's unknown what the price tag will be on this next one.

Denton's attorney did not give us a comment.