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Ex-S.L. officer may be investigated for body-camera video showing him punching, kicking woman

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FILE — A body camera lays on a table.

FILE — A body camera lays on a table.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A now-retired Salt Lake police officer may face a criminal investigation over body-camera footage from 2014 that shows him punching a woman in the face and calling her derogatory and vulgar names in front of her daughter.

Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown said he and other department administrators first became aware of the content of the video when informed by a reporter Tuesday afternoon. Brown said the incident is "concerning" and "not what we expect" from police officers.

The video, which was taken Oct. 10, 2014, and was first posted to YouTube on Tuesday, shows two Salt Lake police officers arresting a woman in a driveway. The officer whose body camera footage is being used in the clip is seen collecting some of the daughter's toys and belongings from the hood of a car after his partner has handcuffed a middle-aged woman.

The angle quickly switches to face the woman directly, apparently in response to the handcuffed woman spitting on the officer wearing the active body camera. The officer appears to respond by punching the woman in the face and then subduing her after she falls to the ground. The same officer appears to kick the woman as his partner lifts her from the ground about two minutes later.

A few seconds after the woman is punched, the officer can be heard saying, "you little (expletive), you (expletive) spit on me, you (expletive)," and then a few seconds after that, "you're an idiot."

At that point, it isn't clear how the officer and woman are interacting, though they both remain on the ground.

The officer talks to her again about 90 seconds later while the woman is still on the ground.

"You go spitting on somebody, you deserve to have your (expletive) kicked. It’s what you deserved," he is heard saying.

The woman responds a few seconds later by saying through sobs, "Please don't. I can't breathe."

"Shut your hole," the officer responds.

The officer's partner can be seen putting a spit mask on the woman and helping her up, at which point the officer who apparently punched the woman before appears to kick the woman, causing her to cry out.

Brown said Tuesday that the officer involved in the confrontation retired from the department on Oct. 29, 2015. The other officer still works for the department, he said.

Brown criticized the officers' handling of the situation.

"That's not what we teach, that's not what we train, (and) that's not what we expect from our officers," he said. "The actions and the words — we don't condone either of them."

The chief declined to release the officers' names. He promised, however, that his department would thoroughly investigate the incident. Brown said he was disappointed that the second officer didn't stop his partner or report the incident to his superiors.

"That's concerning and we'll look into that," he said.

Brown said there is more video of the incident than what was released on YouTube. He also emphasized that he and other department administrators first learned about the nature of the incident Tuesday.

When asked whether police will pursue a criminal investigation against the officer involved in the confrontation, Brown replied: "Possibly. We will look into it."

Brown also said it's possible the other officer will face discipline from the police department, depending on the outcome of the investigation.

Jasmine Anderson, 22, says her mother, Michelle Siguenza, is the woman punched by the officer in the video and that it is her little sister whose frantic cries are heard. She said Siguenza emailed her the video Monday and that she posted the entirety of what was emailed.

"When I saw it, I was completely disgusted," she said.

Anderson said a neighbor called her to tell her that Siguenza was drunk and that she called police to check on her mother and little sister. She was appalled to see Tuesday what happened once police arrived.

"That’s not what I asked for," Anderson said, referring to when she called police. "I asked them to make sure she was safe."

Anderson said her mother has had several encounters with police, so she didn't initially believe her about what happened.

"(I) really thought my mom was exaggerating," she said, but now, "it’s honestly very scary."

Contributing: Ashley Kewish

Email: blockhart@deseretnews.com

Twitter: benlockhartnews