TAYLORSVILLE — Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby was getting ready to be sworn in on Monday as one of Utah’s top law enforcement officials.
As the state-appointed director of Utah POST, or Peace Officer Standards and Training, Rigby would have overseen the training and certification of the approximately 9,000 officers, deputies, and troopers across Utah.
In anticipation of this FOX 13 News report, less than 48 hours prior to the swearing-in ceremony, Rigby’s appointment was suddenly postponed and has not been rescheduled.
Governor Spencer Cox and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Commissioner Jess Anderson are now reportedly taking a closer look at video of Rigby first published by FOX 13 News on December 15, 2021.
Some say the video is an example of Rigby bullying and intimidating a witness as part of a use-of-force investigation.
In an interview with FOX 13 News on Thursday, Anderson referred to it as “a video that certainly is concerning.”
At the time, Anderson indicated he may delay the appointment but only as a “worst-case scenario” as DPS attempts to obtain an explanation from Rigby.
Rigby had recently stepped down from at least two jobs in order to accept the position, one as Wasatch County Sheriff and the other at BYU Police Department.
Anderson originally announced Rigby’s appointment to the POST Director position in early November.
“I want to make sure it’s clear that we are still in the background investigation (of Rigby), which is standard practice for any new hire sworn officer,” said Hillary Koellner, the director of communications for DPS.
Here’s some context surrounding the video in question.
In March 2021, the Heber City Police Department was called out to reports of an intoxicated man near 1000 South 400 West.
Chief Dave Booth accompanied officers to the residence and aided in the arrest.
Body camera video shows Booth grabbing the suspect by the shirt and walking the suspect to the patrol car. As Booth struggled to place the man in the car, several officers watched Booth’s right hand repeatedly clasp onto the suspect’s throat.
Months prior to the incident, officers received an email from the department’s use-of-force sergeant reminding them that “any type of chocking (sic) technique” is not allowed.
Officer Lucas McTaggart was on scene and reported the chief to his immediate supervisor.
Heber City chose Rigby to lead the use-of-force internal affairs investigation.
As part of that investigation, Rigby conducted a recorded interview with McTaggart. The video was obtained by FOX 13 News.
“I was required by Heber City policy to report what I had seen to my supervisor,” McTaggart explained.
“Clearly, you think (Chief) Dave Booth used excessive use of force,” Rigby said.
As the interview progressed, video shows Rigby lecturing McTaggart rather than asking questions.
“There is no excessive use of force, and so your perception is wrong,” Rigby said. “It really comes down to the future – your future – in the police department. So, you can dig in your heels and say, ‘This is how I feel and no one’s going to change,’ and okay, that’s your decision."
“You just won’t get any trusted positions having to do with (defensive tactics), and use of force, and sergeant, and those kinds of things, because you’re not willing to learn and be open minded to it.”
McTaggart is no longer employed by Heber City.
The video in question was obtained independently by FOX 13 News, as both the Heber City Police Department and Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office declined to release videos or information related to the use-of-force investigation.
Sheriff Rigby and Chief Booth
Shortly after FOX 13 News first published the video of Rigby and McTaggart, several members of the public asked the Heber City Council to take action.
“My concerns, as a citizen, are more after the incident,” said resident Tracy Taylor. “That’s what I have concerns with, whether those officers felt they were retaliated against after the fact.”
Brad Ehlert, who lives in Midway, questioned whether Rigby was the appropriate person to conduct the use-of-force investigation.
“The valley is not that big,” he said. “It’s really not.”
Several residents said, if the city was looking for a neutral third party, Rigby was the wrong choice because he’s friends with Booth and that they go to church together.
Rigby declined to comment on his relationship with Booth.
POST complaint, settlement
After watching the video, McTaggart’s supervisor filed a complaint against Rigby with POST on December 20, 2021.
“Sheriff Rigby, as seen on video played on FOX 13 News, threatens Officer McTaggart,” wrote Sergeant Jason Jarvie. “I have seen more of this video, and believe you’ll find that Sheriff Rigby is upset with Officer McTaggart because he will not change his stance on the Chief’s use of force.”
Jarvie eventually left the department “solely due to the city’s retaliatory actions.”
Heber City agreed to pay $7,800 to Jarvie and another sergeant who accused the city of retaliating against them for voicing concerns.
“Heber City does not endorse a culture of bullying or intimidation,” said Heber City Attorney Mark Smedley.
Rigby said he could not speak about the settlement.
FOX 13 News has learned Rigby was originally chosen for the POST Director position despite the POST complaint filed against him in December 2021 and a still-active POST investigation tied to the use-of-force investigation.
Rigby agreed to an interview with FOX 13 News on December 20, 2022.
He declined to talk about the video.
“As an incoming POST Director, it’s not appropriate for me to speak about that matter,” Rigby said. “There’s a pending case right now that keeps me from speaking on that matter.”
“As the future POST Director, don’t you think the public has a right to know that you’ve been reported to POST?” asked FOX 13 News investigative reporter Adam Herbets.
“I don’t know what to say,” Rigby responded.
DPS confirmed Rigby is not the subject of the still-active POST investigation and gave him permission to speak about the video.
Rigby still declined.
DPS later clarified POST was not able to investigate the “witness intimidation” complaint against Rigby because POST is limited in what it is allowed to investigate under statute.
Who knew what?
Anderson said he was not familiar with the specifics of the complaint against Rigby until after the appointment.
He had appointed Rigby upon recommendation by POST Council and with the approval of Governor Spencer Cox, pursuant to 53-6-104(1).
“(The video) didn’t come to my attention until after the fact,” Anderson said. “Certainly I have an obligation to look into that further... Why would you allow yourself to go down a certain path of what appears to be, and has been represented, as threatening?”
Two days after Anderson’s interview with FOX 13 News, he chose to postpone Rigby’s appointment.
“His time of hire actually can be pushed back,” Anderson said at the time. “Worst-case scenario.”
“Had you ever Googled Jared Rigby’s name, prior to the appointment?” asked FOX 13 News investigative reporter Adam Herbets.
“A Google search?” Anderson replied. “No.”
For more than a year, FOX 13 News investigations showing the “witness intimidation” video had been one of the top (if not the top) search results when searching Jared Rigby’s name.
“I wouldn’t expect anybody sitting on POST Council to say, hey, wait a minute, let’s Google his name,” Anderson said. “They already know him.”
Five of the six members on the POST Director Search Committee said they did not know about the video or witness intimidation complaint, therefore they did not ask Rigby anything about the case as part of his interview process.
Rigby served on POST Council at the time of the appointment and was the only name POST Council recommended to Anderson for consideration.
Chief Wade Carpenter, Park City Police Department:
“I saw a video clip or something,” said Wade Carpenter, who serves as the chairman of POST Council. “We really don’t even know about who’s under investigation... All we investigate is criminal violations, criminal acts.”
Chief Allen Swanson, Layton Police Department:
“I certainly would have asked for an explanation,” said Allen Swanson, a member of the POST Director search committee. “It certainly would have piqued some curiosity on, probably not just my end, but all the interviewers.”
Colonel Michael Rapich, Utah Highway Patrol:
“I never was aware of that (video),” said POST Director search committee member Michael Rapich on Wednesday. “I haven’t ever been made aware of that. No, I’ve never seen that video.”
President Jeanetta Williams, NAACP Salt Lake Branch:
“I did not know anything about an investigation,” said Jeanetta Williams, a member of the POST Director search committee. “I did not know at the time when we were doing all of the interviews anything about that situation... I can’t say I wish I did (have all the facts) or wish I didn’t. All I’m saying is that I did not have knowledge.”
Councilmember Malena Stevens, Summit County:
"I wasn't aware of (an investigation),” said Malena Stevens, a member of the POST Director search committee. "I'd have to look at the bylaws and just see... is that something that we're even allowed to consider?"
Sheriff Nate Curtis, Sevier County
Nate Curtis, the final member of the POST Director search committee, declined to comment on whether he knew about the case.
“I think it would be entirely inappropriate to share any part of the conversations we had during the POST Director interviews,” he wrote in an email.
The other top candidate
Several sources with knowledge of the appointment process informed FOX 13 News that Rigby was not Anderson’s first choice for the position.
Anderson confirmed that is true, explaining he was originally supplied a list of three names for consideration by the POST Director search committee. That list was eventually invalidated once POST Council realized it did not vote on the list with a proper quorum.
Prior to that realization, Anderson chose POST Deputy Director Alex Garcia for the position.
Garcia had already been informed he would have the job and received approval from Governor Spencer Cox, according to DPS.
POST Council voted to only recommend one candidate for consideration – Rigby – once a quorum had been reached.
“Did you feel like your hands were tied?” asked FOX 13 News investigative reporter Adam Herbets.
“Well, I was provided one name that came from POST Council, and I moved forward with that name,” Anderson said.
“Did you have any other concerns about Rigby, other than what we’re talking about today?” Herbets asked.
“I’m not going to elaborate on that,” Anderson replied.
Use of force
Scott Stephenson used to be POST Director until he retired in August. He’s now the executive director of Utah Fraternal Order of Police, the state’s largest police union.
Upon watching the video of Rigby interviewing McTaggart, he stated Rigby was not the best choice to fill the POST Director position and wrote a letter to Governor Spencer Cox urging him to reconsider the appointment.
“When I saw that video, for me, it was pretty – I was surprised, to say the least,” Stephenson said. “Why would you make those statements?”
Stephenson said he was especially concerned with Rigby’s explanation of his findings in Booth’s use-of-force investigation.
Rigby concluded Booth’s actions were “not even use of force,” much less “excessive use of force,” because it was “not a technique or tactic” taught by POST.
Stephenson said putting your knee on the back of someone’s neck isn't taught by POST either, but of course it should still be considered “use of force.”
“If you have to lay hands on someone, that’s use of force,” Stephenson said. “His opinion is concerning to me and probably should be with the public.”
Rigby said he could not talk about his conclusions related to the use-of-force case involving Booth.
"I definitely have my thoughts and my feelings," Rigby said. "At this point in time, there's a pending case, and I'm going to be the POST Director."
He said he will recuse himself from the active POST investigation involving Booth if appointed to the position.
Governor Spencer Cox declined to comment on his approval of the Rigby appointment.
“We appreciate the invitation, but we'll decline,” wrote a spokesperson for the governor.
Stay with FOX 13 News for updates on this developing story.
The full video of Rigby's conversation can be viewed here: