March 22, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact Information: PolicePRUnit@slcgov.com
SALT LAKE CITY — Today, the Salt Lake City Police Department is releasing video from two separate occasions showing officers from the SLCPD Airport Division being assaulted.
“These incidents show a total disregard for basic dignity and respect. This conduct can put our officers, airline passengers and airport employees at risk, and I hope these types of assaults end now,” said Police Chief Mike Brown. “I’d like to recognize and thank our partners at TSA and Salt Lake City International Airport who responded quickly, maintained awareness of the airport during this incident and directed other officers to the scene. Their partnership is vital to maintaining the welcoming, safe and efficient airport we have.”
“We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to the men and women who work day in and day out to ensure the safety of our airport passengers and employees,” said Bill Wyatt, executive director, Salt Lake City Department of Airports. “We are grateful for their dedication in serving the traveling public.”
“TSA is grateful to our airport law enforcement partners who play an important role in operations at SLC,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Utah Matt Davis. “TSA takes a zero tolerance approach to threats, verbal abuse and physical violence of any kind against our employees. We have the same expectation for the SLCPD officers who work alongside us every day.”
The first incident occurred at 3:22 p.m. on February 17, 2022, when a 28-year-old man rushed past Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers screening passengers in the security checkpoint. At the time, an SLCPD officer was nearby and observed a disturbance involving the man and TSA employees. The SLCPD officer, a four-year-veteran of the department, immediately intervened to stop the man from further accessing the secure area of the airport. During the incident, the suspect resisted and fought with the officer and repeatedly punched and kicked the officer. An airline passenger, Enrique Rodriguez, later determined to be a retired member of law enforcement, saw the incident and immediately intervened to assist the SLCPD officer. The SLCPD has forwarded the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution.
During the investigation, officers confirmed the suspect was not a ticketed passenger and did not have business at the airport.
It should be noted the footage starts after the subject bypasses TSA’s Travel Document Checking podium at the entrance to the security checkpoint. That portion of the video is exempt from disclosure for security and investigative purposes. Further, it should be emphasized this was not an airport security breach. The individual attempted to breach security, but he did not get outside the screening area and there was no impact to airport operations.
The second incident occurred at approximately 8:40 a.m. on Saturday March 12, 2022, when a 33-year-old man approached two SLCPD officers as they conducted foot patrols on the lower level of the airport concourse. The man, without warning, dropped his bag and punched an officer in the head, nearly knocking him to the ground. After the punch, the man turned his attention toward the second officer and appeared to throw a second punch but immediately transitioned into a position of surrender and put his hands up. Officers safely took the man into custody and booked him into the Salt Lake County Metro Jail on a charge of Assaulting a Police Officer. The case is now referred to the United States Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution.
Information about the suspect’s ticketing status of that day is not known at this time, pending the ongoing investigation.
Despite these two recent assaults, the Salt Lake City International Airport remains a safe and efficient airport that transports approximately 30,000 passengers each day across the globe.
In 2021, resisting arrest and assaults on police officer cases in Salt Lake City increased 16.33%.
For operational security, the SLCPD does not, and will not, release the number of officers on duty per shift for any of its four patrol divisions.
As part of the department’s Revised Crime Control Plan, SLCPD is looking to fill all vacant funded positions.
Charges are only allegations, and every arrested person is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
No further information on this case is being released.
None of the officers referenced in these two cases are available for interviews. SLCPD Chief Mike Brown has spoken with both officers. Neither was seriously injured and remain on the job.
Mr. Rodriguez, the retired member of law enforcement who helped officers arrest the man on February 17th, is willing to speak to media. Reporters interested in speaking with him should contact the SLCPD PIO by calling the media line or e-mailing email@example.com
Media with questions about scheduling and location should call the SLCPD Media Hotline at 801-799-NEWS.