An Owasso police officer in Oklahoma has been suspended and charged with felony assault after dash-cam footage showed him beating a suspect on the ground with the butt of a shotgun.
Lt. Michael Dwain Denton, 49, was indicted on Friday for “assault and battery with a deadly weapon,” and “reckless conduct with a firearm” for his conduct following a high speed pursuit involving suspect Cody Matthews on June 14.
The footage shows cops approaching Matthews’ truck with weapons drawn before one officer breaks the driver-side window using his baton.
Denton can be seen entering the picture and using the barrel of his shotgun to strike Matthews in the face as officers drag the man out of the vehicle.
After Mathews is dragged to the ground, Denton can then be seen using the butt of the weapon to repeatedly deliver downward strikes to Mathews as he lie beneath him.
Watch the raw footage:
Prosecutors condemned Denton’s behavior and said, “essentially, striking anybody in the head with a hard object is considered deadly force. And you can only use deadly force in a circumstance where it’s justified.”
District Attorney for Nowata and Washington counties, Kevin Buchanan, added that the officer demonstrated a “conscious disregard” for the safety of other law enforcement officers and created a “situation of unreasonable risk” for his fellow officers and Mathews with his actions.
Buchanan also said that Denton shoving the barrel of the gun into Mathews’ truck – which he did nine times – before the man was pulled from the vehicle, is also of concern.
“There are two things that cause me concern, and one is the shotgun barrel through the window,” Buchanan said. “He was striking the person that had been stopped with what I’ll call the business end of the shotgun, as well as one of police officers who was trying to take that man into custody.”
Denton has faced scrutiny before. In 2011 he was fired after he was filmed mocking a handcuffed suspect before repeatedly elbowing him in the face. The officer latter sued for reinstatement and an appeals court gave him his job back with back pay of $366,000.
Denton is expected to surrender himself on Fridays charges to police on Monday.