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Monday, January 24, 2011

Cop Punches Woman Repeatedly During Traffic Stop, Charges Dropped

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Written by
Kristen Gosling
US World News

NBC -- A Utah Highway Patrol trooper is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation of an August traffic stop in which he punched a woman several times.


A spokesman for the Department of Public Safety declined to comment on details of the incident involving Sgt. Andrew Davenport, a cousin of UHP Commissioner Lance Davenport.


The department released three videos Friday that show the aftermath of a pursuit that led troopers winding through Ogden just before midnight on Aug. 28.


In a report Sgt. Davenport wrote, he said the driver, Darla Wright, "had the accelerator floored and engine revving in an attempt to push our vehicles out of the way."


The sound of the engine cannot be heard over blaring sirens on the videos.


The sergeant wrote that Wright would not roll down her windows or exit the vehicle despite numerous commands from him and two other troopers.


Sgt. Davenport can be seen in the videos breaking the front driver's-side window, reaching into the car, and punching Wright five times to the head while another trooper deploys a Taser through a rear passenger window.


He was taken to the hospital to get stitches in his arm.


"I delivered three close-hand strikes to her head in an attempt to gain compliance with our commands. I did this to distract and stun her and to stop her from trying to drive off and strike our vehicles or possibly run us over," Sgt. Davenport wrote in his report. "The strikes worked and we were able to grab her hands."


After she was placed in a patrol car, Wright can be heard in the videos yelling and swearing at troopers.


Troopers found prescription drugs in Wright's car, according to the reports.


She was booked into the Weber County Jail for investigation of driving under the influence, eluding police, reckless driving, assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.


However, Wright was only charged with failure to stop or respond at the command of police, a third-degree felony.


Court records show that the case was dismissed in January, but do not indicate why.


Wright doesn't remember much about that night, except the pain of being hit.


She said recalls the smashing of glass and "a black glove coming through and hitting me...just smack."


Wright wants people to see the video of the incident and decide for themselves if the trooper's account is true.


"Yeah, and how many other people has it happened to?" she said. "It should not happen to anybody else ever again."


Almost five months after the incident, the internal investigation of Sgt. Davenport is still pending, but that is not unusual, according to DPS spokesman Brian Hyer.


"The review process does take time because several pairs of eyes look at it," Hyer said Friday. "That time allows for a very critical review to be done."


Hyer said he could not say when Andrew Davenport was placed on leave because the investigation is an ongoing personnel matter.


He added that troopers are trained in the proper use of force.
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