Dana Hertneky, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma County District Attorney has charged Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Mitch Nelson with assault for allegedly kicking a suspect in the groin in February 2010.
According to court documents, Moore police responded to a burglary call February 20, 2010. Officers tried to pull over suspect Adam Barr, but he sped away. Officers took him into custody after his car became disabled.
Court papers show Barr was handcuffed and placed in the back of a Moore police officer's patrol car, but somehow managed to move his hands from the back to the front of his body. He stole the patrol car and started a second pursuit.
Several law enforcement agencies joined in the chase. It continued for several miles through the city of Moore, and ended when Barr eventually crashed the car in Oklahoma City near S.W. 45th Avenue and Blackwelder.
Police say several officers involved in the pursuit removed Barr from the patrol car and placed him face down on the ground. He was still handcuffed at the time.
According to an affidavit, Moore Police Lt. Rodney Tompkins says he heard Trooper Mitch Nelson ask if anyone had their cameras on, or if anyone was filming. Tompkins says he told Nelson the Moore Police Department was recording the scene, and there was also a helicopter overhead. The lieutenant says Trooper Nelson then said, "if the bird wasn't here..," referring to the helicopter overhead.
Tompkins says soon after the helicopter left the area, Trooper Nelson kicked Barr between the legs. According to the affidavit:
"Tompkins said the trooper's foot actually drug [sic] in the grass as if the trooper was trying to kick Barr in the testicles not just in the rear. He described this as a very hard kick. Tompkins thought that this kick occurred with the trooper's right foot."
Tompkins says he then grabbed Nelson and pushed him away from Barr. He asked one of the other Moore police officers to get Nelson's name and badge number. In court documents, Tompkins says he felt Nelson's actions constituted assault and battery.
Trooper Nelson is charged with one count of misdemeanor assault.
"Once the arrest is made and they're no longer a threat you have to refrain, you have to keep in charge of yourself," said Col. Kerry Pettingill, Chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Chief Pettingill says his office renewed the investigation after his administration took over earlier this year. Trooper Nelson has been put on paid administrative reassignment.
"We have to be certain when we move forward with allegations as serious as this so we do not harm their reputation as well so we want to be careful," said Chief Pettingill. "However, we are not going to tolerate the mistreatment of prisoners."
Adam Barr's attorney said there is a possibility of a lawsuit against the state but at this point nothing has been filed.
Nelson has been a state trooper for nine years. He was out of state Wednesday and was not available for comment.