|Updated: 7/13/2012 9:20 am
||Published: 7/12/2012 9:55 pm
The City of Owasso has decided to fight a ruling to reinstate a police officer fired over a controversial arrest on June 30, 2011.
The video shows Lieutenant Michael Denton hitting the suspect, Bryan Spradlin, in the face three times. The police chief, Dan Yancey, says that was two hits too many after reviewing the video.
The City Manager Rodney Ray told FOX23 he could only watch that video one time that day because of the rough arrest.
"I went home and cried," said Ray.
He says he doesn’t consider himself a "sensitive guy" but he couldn't fight off the tears after watching the video.
Ray says they're a city of character and the standard must be set higher.
"It was disgusting to me,” he said. “It overpowered me."
He's hoping a federal judge will feel that same pain when he reviews the report. Ray says there were parts in the video that he found disturbing: one scene where Denton puts his foot on Spradlin's head, another when he attempts to hit Spradlin's head on the door entering the jail and finally, the multiple hits to the suspect’s face.
"That's not a replay of the same incident three times, Ray told FOX23. “That's three times."
Ray believes the arbitrator exceeded his jurisdictional authority by rewriting the city's policy on excessive force.
The arbitrator evaluated each instance and found that “although the force he used was unreasonable or unnecessary” Denton did not cause any injury to Spradlin.
The arbitrator recommended Denton get his job back with benefits and back pay. The city says that’s not fair.
"There can't be a little bit of unreasonable force,” he said “There can't be a little bit of unnecessary force and the policies of the City of Owasso say there should be no unreasonable or unnecessary force. "
Ray adds it also breaks state laws. But Denton’s mother, Louise, disagreed.
"I say an officer of the law has any right to protect themselves as any citizen," she said.
Louise told FOX23 Spradlin was threatening to spit on her son. It’s a felony offense and her son should have the fight to protect himself.
"They can't second guess. They have no time to second guess their decision,” she added. “In certain instances that can be life or death."
Louise Denton says she was in all the arbitration meetings and believes the right decision was made there.
"It's not that it wasn't expected because I know how the city of Owasso works," she said.
However, Ray says it's about following the law.
"He didn't deserve this," he said.
Sradlin's family told FOX23 they're in the process of filing a federal lawsuit.
Spradlin settled out of court with Owasso, receiving a $1,500 out-of-court settlement
Denton's attorney, Patrick Hunter, says he's not worried about the appeal. Hunter says it's tough to overturn an arbiter's ruling.
Ray says Denton won’t be back to work unless a federal judge rules on that.
The City of Owasso will file their appeal Friday or early next week.