Cop hurls flashlight through car window
In an apparent attempt to stop a driver on Main Street, a Park City police officer Wednesday night hurled a big flashlight through the rear window of the luxury car, shattering the window, in what the victim describes as an attack of rage.
Park City Police Chief Lloyd Evans acknowledged that officer Nick Kingery, a six-year veteran of the force, threw the flashlight but declined to give many details of the incident. Evans said Lt. Rick Ryan is investigating. The police recovered the flashlight as part of its probe.
Kingery was placed on paid administrative leave on Thursday pending the results of the investigation, the police chief said.
The incident is especially notable in a community where the police, though they are frequently criticized for varying reasons, have not often been accused of violence during the Evans administration.
Evans said the police will complete the internal investigation "as soon as we can." He said there is a chance that criminal charges would be filed against Kingery.
Tom Daley, the city’s prosecutor, said Friday morning he had not been forwarded the case. He indicated that, if criminal conduct is alleged against a Park City police officer, another agency, such as Summit County or Wasatch County, would investigate to avoid a conflict of interest.
Kingery was on the 600 block of Main Street at about 11 p.m. assisting a tow truck that was removing a vehicle to allow snowplows to pass, Evans said. At that time Rodney Badger, a heart doctor who splits time between Provo and the Park City area, was leaving a Robert Earl Keen concert at Harry O’s with his family.
Badger told The Park Record he and his son walked to his Audi A4 parked on Swede Alley and drove back to Main Street. When they turned left onto Main Street from Heber Avenue they noticed a police SUV with its flashing overhead lights on parked on the side of Main Street, he said. There were no indicators that the police were stopping drivers, like flares or pylons, he said.
Badger said no police officer was inside the car and he continued south on Main Street at about 5 mph. Moments later, the flashlight struck the rear window, smashing it. He said the flashlight is two feet long.
"It was a big thud. I knew instantly someone had hit my car," Badger said, adding, "I was stunned. I said, ‘Officer, what have you done?’"
Kingery told Badger that he was trying to stop Badger’s car from driving to where the tow truck was. Badger said Kingery told him that he honked at Badger’s car before the flashlight was thrown. Badger said he heard the horn but did not realize who was honking or why.
"He said he was protecting the life of a tow-truck driver," Badger said.
Badger said he called 911 reporting that a police officer assaulted him.
Evans said Badger’s version of the incident is generally consistent with what police officers told him afterward. The chief said the victims provided the police with initial statements. A Friday meeting was scheduled between Evans and Badger after The Park Record’s deadline.
Evans said the police are reviewing the case against the rules allowing officers to use force. He said state statutes allow police officers greater latitude than regular people.
"Police officers have the ability to use force to protect life, make arrests," he said.
Badger said another police officer arrived within three minutes and spoke to Kingery. Marty Howard, a Police Department sergeant, then arrived and Badger told Howard that he had been assaulted, Badger said. Howard, though, indicated that standards are different for police officers, Badger said. Badger later filled out an affidavit describing the incident.
"You feel so helpless when the police attack you," Badger said.
Badger said Kingery attempted to stop him when he started taking pictures of the scene with a cellular phone. Badger provided The Park Record with cell-phone photos showing Kingery standing outside a police SUV.
He said Kingery was acting "bizarre" and had a "goofy giggle on his face" afterward.
Kingery, who is in his mid-50s, spent 12 years in law enforcement in West Valley City before joining the force in Park City. The FBI honored him in 2002 for catching a man who held up Frontier Bank.
In the pursuit of William Jennings after the holdup, Kingery fired three shots after Jennings flashed a pistol-grip hose nozzle. Kingery missed. Robert Adkins, the Summit County attorney in 2002, investigated, finding that Kingery was justified in firing. Kingery was the first officer in at least 24 years to fire on a suspect.
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Summit County has launched a new program aimed at overturning wrongful convictions.