Salt Lake City Police arrest man outside press conference after he announces excessive force lawsuit

Posted at 7:41 PM, Dec 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-07 00:15:52-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A dramatic turn of events Wednesday afternoon in a lawsuit involving a man bitten by a Salt Lake City Police K9. Right after that lawsuit was announced, the man who filed it was arrested.

Meet 61-year-old Jackie Sanchez.

"It was like a nightmare. It seemed unreal," Sanchez said.

He said he suffered serious injuries after he was attacked by a police K9 on July 28. Sanchez claims the hospital bills have amounted to more than $30,000.

"It's all numb because of nerve damage," Sanchez said.

Sanchez claims the hospital bills have amounted to more than $30,000.

"It's uncalled for and unjustified," he said.

In body camera footage, you can see Sanchez lying on the ground next to a bus stop in front of the Matheson courthouse. He was admittedly inebriated, but says he wasn't breaking the law when he was approached by Officer Benjamin Hone and his K9.

According to Hones' statement, Sanchez became "verbally abusive." Hone went on to say “due to Mr. Sanchez refusing to obey my commands, threatening me, and aggressively pursuing me into heavy traffic, I decided to have K9 Ted engage Mr. Sanchez”.

Sydney Kapplan says she saw the interaction while walking her dog. You can see her holding her dog in the body camera footage.

“He was drunk and he was saying things over and over, but he wasn't saying 'I'm going to hurt' you or threatening the officer,” Kapplan said.

Attorney Robert Sykes says this is a clear example of excessive use of force.

“There was no basis for this K9 to be released in this situation; this man was unarmed,” Sykes said.

Ironically, Officer Benjamin Hone had been used as an example at a use of force training the day before this lawsuit was filed. He's been praised for rushing to the aid of two sisters back in 2015 who were being brutally attacked inside their home. Hone responded and fatally shot the attacker.

"He could be Officer Friendly, but what he did on this day was wrong: It was unjustified," Sykes said.

However, just after the press conference wrapped, Salt Lake City Police showed up. They took Sanchez into custody right outside Sykes' office, claiming they had a warrant out for his arrest stemming from this exact incident.

Following the arrest, Fox 13’s Dora Scheidell asked Detective Robert Ungricht with the Salt Lake City Police Department if the warrant was filed prior to the announcement of the press conference Wednesday. Detective Ungricht said it was, and then Scheidell asked why police didn’t pursue the arrest before Wednesday.

“Well right now we've had a rash of assaults on police officers in the last little while," he replied. "This was one of those so we thought it was important to get this out."

Sykes spoke to Fox 13 following his client's arrest.

"Police come and arrest him on a beef that's almost five months old," Sykes said.

Sanchez has now been charged with assault against a police officer.

"This is absolutely outrageous. I can't believe this happened," Sykes said.

Sykes says that he may be amending this lawsuit now to include malicious prosecution.