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Video: Utah Troopers Sued Over Swallowed Evidence Arrest

September 04, 2012  | 

VIDEO: Man Swallows Evidence In Utah

A Utah private investigator has sued four Utah Highway Patrol troopers, claiming they used excessive force on him at a traffic stop after he swallowed a prescription pill.

Ronny Todd May was pulled over around 10 p.m. July 9 for following too closely and running a stop sign. May claims he was trying to help a female friend who was having car trouble, reports KSL.

The troopers pulled over May and encountered the woman, described in the trooper's report as a "known drug user," reports the Salt Lake Tribune. The troopers began searching for narcotics and asked May to take off his shoes.

May pulled a pill of prescription methamphetamine medication for narcolepsy from his shoe and swallowed it, which was captured by a trooper's cruiser cam.

One officer then tried to recover the pill and three others then tackled May. One trooper is seen punching May repeatedly. May was also TASERed repeatedly, he claims. Trooper Brandon Whitehead, who initially pulled May over, wrote in his report that May continued to resist, reports the Deseret News.

"I was concerned of the situation to such a degree that I radioed three separate times for additional officers to assist controlling the situation," Whitehead wrote. "During the ground fight, May had such a physical stamina and strength I was concerned and aware of the distinct likelihood he was in an excited delirium state."

The lawsuit seeks $250,000 in damages.

Comments (14)

Displaying 1 - 14 of 14

DEADMAN @ 9/4/2012 4:32 PM

Why did they stop choking,a good hard punch to the solar plexus should have sufficed.Good luck to the Troopers.

Kilrbc @ 9/4/2012 4:43 PM

Pulled a pill from his shoe and swallowed it? This guy claims to be a PI and he pulled a stupid stunt like this? Total IDIOT, too bad he did not choke on it...

Bob @ 9/4/2012 7:10 PM

Yeah, I always carry my prescription meds in my shoe too. Doesn't everyone?

Trigger @ 9/5/2012 4:22 AM

Unfortunately this will either be settled out of court for a lesser amount or some judge or jury will change it to 10 million dollars.

Bob @ VA @ 9/5/2012 4:49 AM

At a minimum, the officer who choked the subject and the one who threw the punches should be seriously disciplined and retrained. Taking prescription meds is not illegal. The police had no cause to attack the subject, who did not initiate any violence. His first reaction to the attack was a natural defense against being strangled by the officer. They didn't merely try to arrest him, but tried to make him cough up his medication. The PI should be well-compensated for his injuries and the physical abuse he suffered.

This type of incident highlights the danger that some mentally and/or physically ill face at the hands of poorly trained or poorly disciplined officers. Immediate physical violence perpetrated on a non-violent subject is rarely appropriate and likely not in the department's guidelines for use of force. What ever happened to the force continuum in Utah?

Dan @ 9/5/2012 7:07 AM

To Bob @ VA: If it isn't his Rx, it is against the law. Besides, at the time he took it, it was unknown what the pill was and for who was it intended.

Bob @ VA @ 9/5/2012 7:26 AM

To Dan: Appreciate your thoughts. However, the officer made no attempt to discern whether it was the subject's prescription or what the pill was before assaulting the subject. There was no indication whatsoever that it wasn't the subject's prescription or that the subject committed any crime other than minor traffic offenses. This looks like a clear violation of the subject's 4th Amendment rights tacked on to an unwarranted assault on an innocent subject.

[email protected] @ 9/5/2012 9:57 AM

Well, now that we've heard from the lawyers ([email protected]) I wonder why the subject fought the Officers when they tried to ID the pill that he swallowed from his shoe? Maybe he was swallowing a poisionous object as was done by a subject here in Phoenix? Man is an idiot. Blues, stay safe!!

Jeff @ 9/5/2012 2:30 PM

Come on! He was with a known drug user and had a pill in his sock! Looks like he was trying to get some action for that pill.

RJ @ 9/6/2012 6:50 AM

Look at the totality of the situation, he immediately grabbed the pill and swallowed it to avoid arrest for it. It is a felony to have narcotics that do not belong to you...and to anyone who says that we could not determine if it was his or not, it is illegal to carry narcotics in any container that does not have your name, presc., and other information on the container. SO unless he had the pill bottle in his shoe, he was commiting a crime...period!

RJ @ 9/6/2012 6:51 AM

and destroying evidence...

T-Man @ 9/6/2012 8:48 AM

Altho I am not a LEO, and cannot even begin to know what a LEO goes through. My two brothers are Retired LEOs, and I know what they went through, however, granted this guy was swallowing alleged "evidence", but to choke him and assault him the way those officers did to get the pill back , to me was excessive and brutal. All they had to do was have him drug tested and make the guy prove that the pill he took was an RX of his. The taxpayers will foot the bill on this one.

[email protected] @ 9/6/2012 11:41 AM

T-Man: Did it occur to you that he wouldn't submit to a voluntary drug test? That he would lawyer up? Oh, yeah, he did. I think maybe you should ask your brothers what kind of scum they ran up against in their time on the line. Also see my earlier post on poisons. Blues, stay safe.

RichPI @ 9/6/2012 9:37 PM

Gotta side with the officers..I've been very fortunate to have experience in military LE, TXand WA pt/res and international drug interdiction enforcement.Excuse me but WT*? is this guy a PI?? and yes, the cases are rising of suicidal poisonings or intentional OD capsules for the "easy way out" plan for these users. The officer attempting to dislodge the unknown ingested substance was acting under "exigent cicumstance" in my opinion...

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