2020 3rd Qtr
Citizen Complaints against Officers
2020 3rd Quarter
All citizen complaints against officers are documented and investigated by the department’s supervisors. Once the investigation is complete, it is reviewed by the Section Commander, Division Commander and then forwarded to the Office of the Chief where the decision is made as to the finding of the complaint. Complaints questioning the basis for a citation or arrest are not documented and those complainants are advised to go through the court system.
There are four different categories of complaint findings:
- Sustained - The investigation produced a preponderance of evidence to prove the allegation did in fact occur and the action of the officer was improper.
- Not Sustained - The investigation failed to produce a preponderance of evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation.
- Exonerated - The allegation in fact did occur but the actions of the officer were legal, justified, proper, and in accordance with the law and the department’s policies and procedures.
- Unfounded - The allegation in fact did not occur, based on the evidence.
During this quarter, there were eleven citizen’s complaints against officers. The findings for these complaints are as follows:
- On 7/4/2020, a citizen complained about excessive force being used in the arrest of her son which caused injuries to him. She also complained that police reports stated the son had broken into a property owned by the family. An investigation into the complaint was conducted. The investigation revealed video evidence and independent witness testimony that the son caused his own injuries during a prolonged, drug-induced state prior to coming into contact with law enforcement. It also showed that police reports did not state that he had broken into family owned business. The complaint was unfounded.
- On 7/26/20, a citizen complained that his handcuffs were too tight during his arrest and transport to jail causing injuries. An investigation into the complaint was conducted. The investigation revealed that the citizen was arrested and handcuffed properly. The in-car video shows him struggling against the handcuffs during transport which caused redness to his wrists. Other injuries on his arms were the result of the car accident he was in prior to his arrest and inconsistent with injuries caused by overly-tightened handcuffs. This complaint is unfounded.
- On 7/27/2020, a citizen complained that he had been falsely arrested on January 24th, 2020. An investigation into the complaint was conducted. The investigation revealed that officers responded to a report of an aggravated assault and conducted an investigation. During the course of this investigation, officers located the citizen. Witnesses on scene identified the citizen as the suspect of the aggravated assault and he was subsequently arrested. Officers followed correct procedures for conducting a show-up identification process and had probable cause to arrest the citizen. The case was later dismissed and subsequently the citizen filed a complaint. This complaint is not sustained.
- On 8/9/2020, a citizen filed a complaint against an officer for injuring his shoulder while being detained. An investigation into this complaint was conducted. The investigation revealed that officers were responding to a call for service at a residence that required them to make contact with the people there. The citizen exited the residence and attempted to walk away. He was uncooperative and appeared under the influence of a mind altering substance. As part of their investigation, officers detained the citizen. They handcuffed the citizen for their safety, utilizing two sets of handcuffs. The citizen complained of his shoulder hurting from a prior surgery and officers called an ambulance to check out his shoulder. It was checked and the ambulance left. The citizen finally calmed down enough for officers to conduct their investigation and release him from the scene. The complaint was unfounded.
- On 8/18/2020, a citizen complained that officers conducting a search warrant at her residence stole money from her. The initial complaint investigation was conducted by the Sioux Falls Police Department (SFPD). Upon discovering the nature of the complaint, the SFPD requested the complaint be investigated by the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI). DCI conducted an investigation during which time the citizen and her boyfriend, who was the owner of the money that was alleged to have been stolen, were uncooperative with the investigation. The information they did provide was inconsistent. They claimed to have video footage of the theft but refused to provide it to investigators. The investigation did not reveal that any theft had occurred and the complaint was not sustained.
- On 8/18/2020, a complaint was filed against a department Animal Control Officer. A citizen had been bitten by a dog and the Animal Control Officer was called by the medical clinic to investigate the dog bite. The citizen was upset that the officer was called and that they didn’t introduce themselves immediately as an Animal Control Officer. The officer was responding to a call for service and within department policy and procedure as well as state law in her actions. The complaint was unfounded.
- On 8/22/2020, a citizen filed a complaint of their handcuffs being too tight. An investigation into the complaint was conducted. The investigation revealed that the citizen was arrested and placed into handcuffs. The handcuffs were double locked and checked for fit. During the transport the citizen was very disorderly, yelling, screaming, cursing and spitting all over the car. At jail, correctional staff had to carry him inside and remove his handcuffs. The wrists were examined and there was only minor skin irritation consistent with pulling against handcuffs. The complaint was unfounded.
- On 8/26/2020, a citizen filed a complaint against an Animal Control Officer accusing them of speeding. Specifically, the driver said the officer was travelling 55 mph. An investigation was conducted into the complaint. The investigation revealed that the Animal Control Officer was responding to a call in the area and according to their AVL GPS, never reached close to 55 mph. This call is unfounded.
- On 8/26/2020, a citizen filed a complaint that an officer of the department was harassing them. An investigation into the complaint was conducted. The investigation revealed that the officer did not harass or stalk the citizen and the complaint was unfounded.
- On 9/1/2020 a citizen filed a complaint of excessive use of force by a detective. An investigation into the complaint was conducted. The investigation revealed that a citizen was having a warrant served upon their person for evidence. The citizen attempted to walk away from the warrant service and was redirected back to complete the warrant by grabbing the person’s arms and walking them back to where the service was being conducted. This resulted in a small scratch on their arm from a fingernail. This amount of force was necessary to complete the warrant and was the least amount necessary to gain compliance from the citizen. This complaint is unfounded.
- On 9/18/2020 a citizen filed a complaint against an officers for calling him a derogatory insult and illegally detaining him. An investigation into the complaint was conducted. The investigation revealed that officers came into contact with the citizen as a result of a dispatched call for service described as a burglary in progress. When they came into contact with him, he refused to provide any information, was uncooperative and, and called the officers multiple derogatory and profane things. He claimed the officers had no right to detain him and that they called him a profane, derogatory insult. A review of the video and audio from the officer’s car camera showed that these complaints against the officers for calling him names did not happen. The investigation also showed the officers were within department policy and procedure, state and federal law in detaining the citizen as part of the investigation. These complaints are unfounded.