Fruita officers cleared in use of force investigation

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FRUITA, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) -- Fruita police concluded Wednesday that the actions of two officers seen in a video showing one of them punching a suspect were justified.

"The officers acted reasonably, appropriately and in accordance with Fruita Police policy and training," said Chief Dave Krouse.

The incident happened May 3 after police got a call about an intoxicated man in the area of Pine Street and Aquarius Avenue yelling at people.
Corporal Garrett Henderson, who has served in law enforcement for 18 years, and Officer Clem Rodriguez, who has served for 13 years, responded to the call.

The video shows nothing out of the ordinary at first. But a few moments after the officers help the man up, Cpl. Henderson is seen punching the suspect.

Cpl. Henderson said when they went to arrest the suspect, the suspect tensed up and resisted arrest, according to the case report. Cpl. Henderson said he attempted to counter the resistance with a single fist strike to his torso.

The chief admits the video didn't look good but wanted people to know the whole picture.

"The subject's actions per our policy would fall into what we call an active resistance threshold," Chief Krouse said. "It's a trained and approved distractionary technique.

"It wasn't intended to cause injury it was intended to distract his concentration."

The issue has divided the community.

"I believe they have access to so many things that having excessive force seems silly," said Terry Brewer.

"I teach my kids they are the good guys and the ones you go to for help," said Bailey Downey. "I feel like they call the judgments and I like to trust in that."

The chief says it could serve as a lesson into how officers do their jobs.

"I think there may be a misunderstanding, but I think that is as much our responsibility as anybody," Chief Krouse said. "I think it's our responsibility to educate the community in what they can trust us to do."

Given the high profile nature of the case, Fruita Police brought in the Grand Junction Police Department's Professional Standards Unit to look at the case, as well.

The suspect was not hurt and not charged, according to the case report.

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