A San Juan County Sheriff's deputy remains on paid administrative leave after he beat a man multiple times with his flashlight in Farmington NM.
Dale Frazier, a nearly five year veteran of the department, was placed on paid leave following a March 17 incident in which he struck Donovan Tanner, 22, at least five times in the head with his flashlight, Sheriff's Capt. Tim Black said.
Frazier, who was on patrol the evening of St. Patrick's Day, responded to Main Street across from Navajo Trading Company, where he confronted Tanner and another man while they were walking away from Three Rivers Brewery.
Frazier began to scream at both men, ordering them to stay by his patrol car.
The deputy's in-car police camera shows Frazier slamming Tanner onto the front of his patrol car, holding him down with a flashlight against his throat.
"Do not resist," Frazier yells at Tanner.
He strikes Tanner twice on the left side of his face and head with his flashlight before hitting Tanner several more times while the men are on the ground.
Frazier, following the hits, cuffs Tanner and helps him back up to the patrol car.
Another deputy, Terry McCoy, intervened and restrained Tanner by the neck after Tanner began to yell and bang his own head on the patrol car.
Tanner, following the beating, was arrested and charged with disarming a peace officer.
Black declined to comment on the specifics of the internal affairs review pending the outcome of the complete investigation.
The incident came to the attention of
the department's administration March 30 during a regular review of use of force incidents, Black said.
Upon review, it was immediately flagged and an internal investigation was opened the same day, Black said.
The Sheriff's Office, per agency policy, reviews all use of force incidents, which are typically disclosed by the officer involved and reported up the chain of command, Sheriff's Lt. Brice Current said.
"Most things are captured on video and everything is reviewed," Current said.
A civil lawsuit filed by Tanner is pending.
On April 1, Tanner's attorney, Arlon Stoker, filed a tort claim notice informing the agency of an intent to sue and demanding an internal affairs investigation be conducted looking into the incident, Black said.
Stoker did not return calls for comment Wednesday night.
The Sheriff's Office, on Wednesday, contacted the District Attorney's Office and requested the charges filed against Tanner be dropped.
"We reviewed it (Wednesday) and we dismissed the charges of disarming a police officer," Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said in a phone interview.
Upon review of the video "we don't believe we can move forward with the charges," O'Brien said.
Frazier works as a deputy in the agency's traffic unit, focusing mainly on enforcing drunken driving, Black said.
Black expects the internal investigation to be complete some time next week, he said.
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