City Of Owasso Will Appeal Arbitration Ruling In Case Of Fired Cop

Thursday, July 12th 2012, 5:10 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The City of Owasso plans to appeal an order that they reinstate a police officer accused of using excessive force.

Lieutenant Mike Denton was fired, but won his job back through arbitration. The city was ordered to hire the officer back, with back pay.

But the City Manager, Rodney Ray, said the arbiter went too far in both deciding there was unnecessary and unreasonable force, but that firing the officer was excessive punishment.

Denton remains off the job, and the City of Owasso says it's going to stay that way, because they are going to court, hoping to overturn the ruling from arbitration.

There wouldn't be a case if not for video showing Denton taking an uncooperative suspect to jail.

The whole thing happened just outside the doors of the police station, but it was captured by cameras from every angle, two of them on police officers' uniforms.

The video seems to show an intoxicated man being dropped, stepped on, and dragged outside, then twisted and dragged inside again, before he's given three elbow blows to the face by Denton.

The other two officers reported what happened, and Denton was fired.

7/10/2012 Related Story: City Of Owasso Releases Video Of Officer Hitting Suspect

The arbiter's ruling found there was excessive force, but that firing Denton was excessive punishment, and instead, he should have only received a letter of reprimand.

The city believes that's how they can win on appeal.

"There can't be a little bit of unreasonable force," said Ray. "There can't be a little bit of excessive force. And the policies of the City of Owasso say there shall be no unreasonable or unnecessary force."

Denton, in an exclusive interview with News on 6, said Tuesday that he did nothing wrong, and the video doesn't clearly show how combative the suspect was.

"It's a one-dimensional depiction of something that's happening in three dimensions, in actual time," Denton said.

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

Denton, his attorney, and the police union won his job back through arbitration.

Owasso Police Chief, Dan Yancey, said he and his officers were shocked by what appeared on the video.

"A lot of the officers, once they saw this, they were appalled by the actions of the officers—disappointed," Chief Yancey said.

The incident happened the very first day that Owasso officers began wearing lapel cameras on their uniforms.

The man Denton was taking to jail has reached a settlement of $1,500 with the City of Owasso.

He did not want to press criminal charges, and cannot sue over the incident.

We called Denton's attorney for comment about the appeal, and he has not responded.