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South Jordan officer arrested for kidnapping, other charges after bizarre Thanksgiving incident

Posted at 3:28 PM, Nov 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-29 00:39:10-05

JUAB COUNTY, Utah — An officer with South Jordan Police was arrested after a strange series of events on Thanksgiving, including an alleged kidnapping, that he attributed to "being watched by an unknown organization."

The incident involving Master Officer Scott Elliott Russell reportedly occurred while he was off-duty on Thanksgiving.

An individual, whose age, gender nor relationship to Russell were not provided, told police that they went on a drive with him before a family dinner in Provo.

While driving, Russell reportedly became "irrational and paranoid" and denied the victim's request to be taken home. He exited the freeway at southbound exit 202 in Juab County, then rolled the vehicle down a river embankment in the area of Sevier River Estates. He also took their phone and disabled it, the victim told police.

After the crash, Russell told the victim to lie on the ground, take off their shoes and remove any personal belongings, according to court documents. Russell then reportedly discarded the victim's things, as well as his own gun that he had on an ankle holster.

They both then walked to an abandoned outbuilding, where Russell told the victim to stay while he walked to another outbuilding, according to the report. After waiting for some time, the victim walked to I-15 to get help, was picked up by a driver and later taken to the hospital by a family member.

Police responded to the area after Russell called 911 to report the crash but "with no injuries." At that time, police were not aware of the alleged kidnapping. They found the vehicle, footprints leading from the scene, personal property of the victim, as well as that of the suspect, including his gun.

Russell was arrested on Friday and interviewed. During the inverview, police said "it was hard to follow [Russell's] recollection of events." He also reportedly "claimed he had been set up, and believed he was actively being watched by an unknown organization."

He told police he had discarded his gun because he wanted those who he said were watching him to see that he didn't pose a threat.

Russell was arrested on felony charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault and burglary, as well as misdemeanor charges of criminal trespassing, reckless endangerment and interruption/interference of a communications device.

He is being held without bail.

Russell has been with the South Jordan Police Department for over 15 years and was a master officer. He was placed on administrative leave as soon as the department learned of the alleged kidnapping, a spokesperson told FOX 13. He was also a resource officer at Bingham High School as recently as 2018, according to an article from The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Then-Detective Scott Russell of the South Jordan Police Department on duty at Bingham High School in South Jordan, where he served as a resource officer, Friday Feb. 16, 2018.