SALT LAKE CITY — Tensions are high between a House Representative and Senator on Utah's Capitol Hill after an alleged physical incident led one to file a police report that could now turn into criminal charges.
Sen. Daniel Thatcher is pursuing criminal charges against House Representative and Minority Leader Brian King after an altercation in the Senate Building halls.
Thatcher said an October 3 incident left him with no choice but to press criminal charges against King.
“It was literally an attack out of nowhere. It was completely insane,” said Republican Senator, Daniel Thatcher. “That type of thing, is the type of thing that usually would get you censured or fired."
“There was no argument, there was no yelling, there was no shouting, there was no back and forth, this wasn’t an argument that went too far,” said Thatcher in a Facebook video he posted from Washington D.C.
King said the alleged incident was predisposed by Thatcher.
“We had a conversation a few days before,” King said. “He had asked me to endorse him in his reelection bid and I was not willing to do that.”
In a text to Fox 13, Thatcher claimed he hadn’t spoken to King in weeks and there was no preceding argument that led him to be “attacked.”
The text reads, “A few facts; First there was no preceding argument. I hadn’t seen him in weeks. I walked up, said hello, and was immediately and violently attacked. I have never raised my voice to him.”
“I put my hands on his shoulders and stepped into him,” King said as he described the incident.
“That was the only physical contact,” King added. “I basically talked to him and told him I was unhappy and why. Then I walked away, it lasted maybe four or five seconds.”
“Not a little shove, but grabbed and wrangled and manhandled towards a wall!” Thatcher refuted in his video.
“Dan [Thatcher] came up to me within ten seconds, literally and said ‘What was that all about?’ I said, 'Fair enough Dan, I was overly aggressive, I am unhappy about that. I apologize, I shouldn’t have gotten in your personal space that way,’” King said recalling the moments following the incident.
King said he sent Thatcher a text to reiterate his apology not even fifteen minutes after it happened.
The text reads, “Dan, I meant that apology about infringing on your personal space. Totally Improper on my part. I will do my best not to repeat that behavior. We can talk more about the other issues later. But I value our working relationship and don’t want to damage that.”
“It was something that wasn’t consented to and I was too aggressive,” King said.
In response Thatcher continued his text message to Fox 13 saying, “His so called apology did not address what he actually did. He denies what actually happened, despite the video, and further is blaming me for starting an argument that never happened.”
Thatcher claimed he went to Human Resources before he decided to file the police report with Utah Highway Patrol, the agency that provides security at the state capitol.
“I did ask them [Human Resources] to get this man some anger management that he clearly and desperately needs,” Thatcher said.
“The next thing I know there’s been this escalation and that’s what I can’t figure out,” King said. “Nobody from HR has ever spoken to me.”
Now, more than a month later, an investigation is underway and it’s an event both men seem to remember differently.
“Maybe he doesn’t realize how unhinged he was? It was vicious, it was violent, it was insane,” said Thatcher.
“It wasn’t a big deal in my mind, I didn’t hurt him to any degree,” said King.
King said he believes the entire thing has been taken too far.
“This makes the legislature look bad. This isn’t something that makes me look good, it isn’t something that makes Dan Thatcher look good,” King said.
Thatcher said he’s not pursuing legal charges to “pick on Brian” but to ensure this type of thing doesn’t happen again.
“Instead of trying this in the court of public opinion, unfortunately, this is going to have to go to the court of law,” Thatcher said.
The incident was captured by surveillance cameras in the Senate building hallway, both men claimed to have seen the video prior to our conversations with them.
UHP said they will not be releasing the footage or the police report made by Thatcher while the investigation is underway.