Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputies train on use of force with a simulator to mimic real-life scenarios. Saja Hindi
Three deputies with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office have been dismissed after one of them punched a suspect in the back of the head while trying to restrain him in an interview room.
Deputy Paul Saunders used “a technique that is neither instructed nor approved by the Weld County Sheriff’s Office,” according to a news release, when he hit the suspect, who was being held in the Weld County Sheriff’s Office for the Loveland Police Department.
After an internal investigation, Saunders was issued a summons for third-degree assault and was terminated. He had been employed since June and was in training at the time.
Two 15-year veterans of the sheriff’s office either resigned or were terminated as a result of the incident. Deputy Todd Deutsch resigned, and Sgt. Scott Holmen was terminated, the news release said.
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Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said on Oct. 18, deputies were attempting to restrain a suspect while he resisted and refused to follow verbal commands. Saunders punched the suspect in the back of the head, and the two other deputies in the room did not intervene.
“It was shocking to me when I learned of it, and it was shocking to my staff, who took the proper action to hold their peers accountable for their actions,” Reams said in a video statement that also showed video of the incident.
After the incident was reported that day, the sheriff’s office said it took immediate action and launched an internal investigation.
“The Weld County Sheriff’s Office recognizes and respects the value of each human life that deputies encounter at every call for service,” a news release from the Weld County Sheriff’s Office stated. “The actions of these deputies were outside the scope of their assigned duties and undermine the Sheriff’s Office mission; to provide effective public safety services with honor and integrity.”
No further information will be provided because it is an the active criminal investigation, the sheriff’s office said.
The video can be found at https://youtu.be/-jm0xKfIaos.
Rebecca Powell is a content coach at the Coloradoan. If you know of an impactful story you believe needs to be reported, send it to RebeccaPowell@coloradoan.com.
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