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McDonald's security guard charged with assault

Incident is latest in security personnel facing scrutiny

James Charles Wilkins
James Charles Wilkins
Salt Lake County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY — A security guard at a McDonald's in downtown Salt Lake City has been charged with using excessive force while trying to remove a person from the property.

James Charles Wilkins, 53, of Salt Lake City, was charged last week in 3rd District Court with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony.

On Oct. 29, Wilkins, who was working security at McDonald's, 210 W. 500 South, told a man who was outside the restaurant to leave the property, according to charging documents. The man began recording Wilkins with his cellphone, which upset Wilkins, the charges state.

Wilkins then used a 10-inch metal rod to hit the man on the head, according to court documents. The victim was wearing a helmet, but the blow left a dent in the helmet, the charges state.

One witness told police that Wilkins hit the man in self-defense after the man pushed and punched him first, according to court documents. Court documents do not say what security company Wilkins worked for.

The incident comes as security companies are facing increasing scrutiny following a pair of high-profile incidents in 2018.

The Utah Department of Commerce recently ordered Black Diamond Security Group — the company that hired Melvin Rowland, a convicted felon and registered sex offender who murdered University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey — to stop doing business. The company did not have a license to operate in Utah.

The order came after it was discovered that Rowland, 37, despite being sent to prison multiple times and listed on the Utah Sex Offender and Kidnapper Registry, was working security at a downtown Salt Lake bar that had contracted with Black Diamond Security.

It was while Rowland was working at the bar that he met McCluskey, 21, whom he later shot and killed, according to police. Black Diamond issued a statement saying its relationship with Rowland had ended a month prior and that they were also investigating.

In June, Timothy Richard Lutes, an employee of Citadel Security, was attempting to remove a trespasser near the plaza between the Heber Wells and Department of Workforce Services buildings on 300 South, between 140 East and 160 East, when he allegedly shot the man twice as he was walking away, killing him.

Lutes was charged with murder for the death of 54-year-old Thomas Ray Stanfield.