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25 cops in Utah disciplined for misconduct including officer in shooting, ex-chief accused of DUI

Posted at 3:29 PM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 23:57:11-04

SANDY, Utah -- The agency that certifies and disciplines police officers in Utah handed down punishments to 25 officers facing accusations of misconduct.

They included Jeremy Dunn, an Enoch police officer who shot a woman in the knee when responding to a vehicle burglary last year. The shooting was determined to be unjustified, according to the Iron County Attorney, but prosecutors declined to pursue charges.

"This has been a very humbling experience. I saw her as an eminent threat and I made the best decision I could," he cried as he spoke to the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. "To minimize the damage to her and life, the preservation of life, was my priority. But I see there are things I could have done better and done differently. Moving forward, I would adhere to POST's training and be more cognizant of every situation I encounter. I humbly ask POST Council to allow me to serve and protect in Utah as law enforcement again."

Members of the POST Council asked if there were less-lethal options (Dunn did use a Taser that did not work) and comments he had made that he would "smoke her" if she didn't drop a screwdriver that he said was wielded like a weapon. Ultimately, the POST Council rejected a recommendation to revoke his badge and gave him a 4-year suspension.

The POST Council also gave a 2-year suspension to ex-Mantua Police Chief Shane Zilles, who was arrested for DUI earlier this year in his patrol car. Zilles was found to be driving under the influence of Ambien and Benadryl. Zilles quit the police force and pleaded guilty to a single charge of impaired driving.

He was not present to speak to the POST Council.

The council's discipline of officers also included:

  • Roberto Benvenutto, a former Salt Lake County Sheriff's deputy whose badge was revoked after being accused of stealing an iPad from a nursing home.
  • Lance Bess, a former Unified Police Officer, who was given a 3-year suspension for an incident where he was shot at by hunters in Box Elder County in 2017. POST Council staff said he confronted the hunters with his handgun. The case went to the Utah Supreme Court where his conviction on threatening use of a dangerous weapon was upheld. Bess told the council he was afraid for his life and his family's.
  • David Bingham, a former corrections officer, whose certification was revoked after being accused of forging a superior's signature on time cards that were altered.
  • Brittney Bryan, a former corrections officer, had her certification revoked for possession of a controlled substance and open container related to a fatal crash in 2018.
  • Robert Calkins, a former Salt Lake County Sheriff's deputy, received a 3-year suspension from POST Council over allegations of assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct related to an altercation with a roommate and a former girlfriend.
  • Tyrel Curtis, a former Juab County Sheriff's deputy, received a 3-year suspension for falsifying information on an application to POST.
  • Abinidi Gray, a former Uintah County Sheriff's employee, was given a 1-year suspension for falsifying a record related to medication dispensed to an inmate in the jail.
  • Jake Hardee, a former Utah Valley University police officer, was given a 1-year suspension for not disclosing information about prior drug use in a POST application.
  • Joshua Hardman, an unemployed police officer, was given a 1-year suspension for impersonating a police officer in an incident involving equipment that had been towed. He told the council he did not intend to deceive anyone.
  • Andrew Hatcher, an unemployed officer, was given a 2-year suspension for DUI.
  • Bradly Johnson, a former corrections officer, had his badge revoked after POST Council said he struck an inmate at the Utah State Prison with a golf cart. Johnson told the council he was joking around and hit the brakes, but failed to stop in time.
  • Bryan Lentz, a former corrections officer, had his certification revoked for not disclosing a sexual misconduct incident on a peace officer application.
  • Jerrod Loftus, an unemployed officer, had his certification revoked after POST said he threatened some hikers on a trail earlier this year.
  • Javen Lowell, a former corrections officer, received a 3 1/2-year suspension for sexual conduct on duty.
  • Jonathan Mangum, a former South Jordan police officer, received a revocation of his certification for theft by extortion. POST Council said he had threatened a woman in a family dispute.
  • Nicolas Riggs, a former Unified police officer, had his certification revoked for communications fraud, DUI and hit and run. POST Council alleged he had wrongfully reported a credit card fraud and was later involved in a hit and run crash.
  • Kirk B. Smith, a former corrections officer, received a 3-year suspension for a domestic violence assault incident, according to POST.
  • Terry Thomas, an unemployed peace officer at the time, received a revocation of his certification for voyeurism, POST said.

There are approximately 8,900 certified police officers in the state of Utah. With a few hundred disciplinary cases per year, it amounts to less than 1% of the total police force in Utah, said Major Scott Stephenson, the director of POST.

The council also passed a rule that forbids police officers from masturbating while on duty, taking pictures of their genitalia while in uniform and sexting. POST was forced to implement the rules because of previous cases where they sought to discipline officers for sexual misconduct only to be challenged on not explicitly spelling it out in the rules.

“You would think common sense would rule the day, but unfortunately, that’s not the case,” Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter, who chairs the POST Council, told FOX 13 on Tuesday.