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Man sues Ogden police officer, claiming excessive force

SALT LAKE CITY — As Guy Gailey lay on the lawn while Ogden police officers handcuffed him, his screams of pain were constant.

"My ribs. Please help me," Gailey cried in police video as he appeared to struggle to breathe. "It's bad dude, it’s bad."

When officers drove him to McKay-Dee Hospital, doctors discovered Gailey had three broken ribs and a punctured lung.

Now Gailey, 43, of Ogden, and his lawyer, Salt Lake civil rights attorney Robert Sykes, have filed a lawsuit against Ogden police officer Rylee Marble claiming he used excessive force by slamming his knee into Gailey's back while arresting him for investigation of fleeing from police — after Gailey had already surrendered.

On April 6, Gailey was riding his bicycle on a sidewalk on Harrison Boulevard at 2:30 a.m. An Ogden police officer attempted to pull Gailey over, but he took off, according to the civil lawsuit. Other officers, including Marble, went to the area as backup.

Gailey stopped fleeing a short time later and "assumed the position," as he called it, laying on the ground on his stomach to be arrested. After he was already on the ground, Marble came up and put his knee into Gailey's back.

"There was so much weight that it knocked all the air out of me and I saw a bright light," Gailey told Sykes in an audio recording from the Weber County Jail.

According to an Ogden police report, "(Marble) went to take him into custody and slipped on the grass, putting all his weight on Guy's back."

Marble further commented in his own supplemental report: "My momentum caused me to slip in the grass."

"We don't believe that," Sykes said Thursday while announcing the lawsuit. "The place where he put his knee on his back is the place they teach officers to place their knee on a suspect to immobilize them so they can handcuff him. So it was the very same spot he was supposed to put his knee."

Even if he had slipped, Sykes said there was no reason to use force at all in that situation.

"He had already given himself up and was trying to surrender, and the officer went ahead and used force — very excessive force," he said. "The police are not permitted to use any force on a nonviolent misdemeanant."

Gailey had fled from Marble before. At the time of the April incident, Gailey had a warrant out for his arrest for fleeing from Marble during their previous encounter. Sykes said his client is currently serving time until May of 2018 in the Weber County Jail because of that.

But because of the prior incident, Sykes said he believes Marble had a bias against Gailey.

Ogden City Attorney Gary Williams said Thursday he had not seen the lawsuit, but the arrest was investigated.

“After an internal review, we feel confident that our officer acted appropriately under the circumstances,” he said.

At his office Thursday, Sykes showed body camera video from some of the officers who responded that night. He said he had not seen all of the recordings, and he questioned not only why some video appeared to be missing, but why the officers turned off the audio on their body cameras at a certain point during the arrest.

Prior to the audio being turned off, Gailey can be heard crying constantly and "writhing in pain," Sykes noted. Although it is not a constitutional violation, Sykes also said the officers "mocked and taunted" Gailey as he lay on the ground, calling it "bad form."

"You’ll be all right” an officer is heard saying on the recording. "Why didn’t you just stop when I told you to stop?"

"Roll over," an officer orders Gailey while he's on the ground.

"I can't," he replies.

"Yeah you can. You’ll be all right," the officer tells him. "You swallow your dope again?"

Officers can also heard telling Gailey, "Knock it off," and "That'll teach you not to run."

"Did you not learn your lesson from the last three times you ran from me?" an officer believed to be Marble tells him. "You know what you should quit doing? Running from the police when they tell you to stop."

Later, an officer tells Gailey, "If you’d stop screaming you could breathe better. You're like a little kid. Stop it."

"I can’t help it," Gailey responds.

Sykes admits his client shouldn't have fled from police but said Gailey's actions did not constitute the use of force by police. He said Gailey's Fourth Amendment right was violated. He is seeking unspecified damages.