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Salt Lake councilman decries officer's actions in park

A community council member who witnessed a Salt Lake police officer take down a woman in Sugarhouse Park for not having her dogs on a leash called the officer's actions "overly bullyish and aggressive" in an e-mail to Mayor Rocky Anderson.

The message from East Liberty Park Community Council member Boris Kurz has prompted Anderson to ask for further review of last Thursday's incident.

"He wants this to be looked into carefully and the right thing to happen," mayor's office spokesman Joshua Ewing said. "He's definitely in no way condemning the police with this."

Kurz's one-and-a-half page e-mail criticized the "degrading machismo" of the officer who tried to arrest Melanie Olmstead as well as other backup officers who arrived to speak with witnesses after the incident.

Kurz states he saw the officer approach Olmstead because her dogs weren't on a leash. After witnessing an argument between the two, Kurz wrote, "The officer tackled her, threw her to the ground and handcuffed her."

"The throwing to the ground maneuver had seemed rather violent," Kurz added.

Salt Lake City Police maintain Olmstead's actions escalated the incident, Sgt. Fred Louis said.

According to a police report, Olmstead refused to give her name or any identification to the officer. She also resisted when the officer tried to handcuff her, the report states.

"There have been some inquiries from the mayor's office asking what happened," Louis said. "(Police internal affairs) is going to look into it. . . . We just have to wait and see what happens from there."

Anderson received Kurz's lengthy e-mail after he'd already spoken to Salt Lake Police Chief Rick Dinse about the incident, Ewing said.

But after receiving Kurz's e-mail, Anderson sent a message to Dinse, with Kurz's complaints attached.

"Boris is a very credible man and is a Community Council Chair who works very hard for our community," Anderson wrote to Dinse. "I hope you will look into all of this very carefully. If these threats were made as Boris describes (and, as I said, Boris is a very credible, bright man), they merit an investigation and consideration of discipline."

To date the officer, who police have not identified, has remained on duty.

Following the incident, police cited Olmstead for the leash violation and interfering with an arrest, Louis said.

Olmstead suffered scrapes to her palm and elbow but refused medical treatment at the scene, according to the report. Olmstead said she is hiring an attorney to look into filing a complaint with the police department or possibly taking civil action.


E-MAIL: djensen@desnews.com