OGDEN -- The Ogden Police Department hired a former Utah Highway Patrol sergeant six months after he was fired for repeatedly punching a woman after a vehicle pursuit.
Andrew L. Davenport was hired by the police department in June 2011, according to the city's Human Resources Department records.
Davenport's employment status with the city has surfaced in connection with the release of a Utah Career Service Review Office report from an October 2011 hearing in which Davenport appealed his firing from the UHP.
The review office upheld Davenport's firing from the highway patrol for excessive force.
"By the time this conduct occurred, grievant (Davenport) had been a police officer for more than a decade and a sergeant for several years," the review office's decision states.
"For grievant to forget everything he had learned over such a long time does not inspire confidence that he can consistently recall his training and use it properly in the future."
Ogden Police Chief Mike Ashment, who assumed his new duties in March, said Tuesday night that Davenport underwent a thorough background check before being hired by the police department.
"The background investigation concluded that officer Davenport was terminated from UHP as a result of an allegation of excessive use of force by the UHP administration that resulted from a pursuit that occurred on August 28th, 2010," Ashment said in an email. "The background investigation included a review of the dash cam video from the pursuit of August 28, 2010. The background investigation revealed that the excessive force allegation had been investigated by the Utah Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST), and that a determination was made to take no further action, and to close the investigation. Davenport remains POST certified to engage in law enforcement activities. The background investigation also concluded that the pursuit and use of force of Officer Davenport was reviewed by city and county prosecutors, who concluded that no criminal assault charges were warranted."
Davenport ranked No.1 on the eligibility list approved by the Ogden Civil Service Commission and was hired by the previous administration, said Ashment. A total of 102 applicants tested for the position.
The testing process consisted of a written test, physical test, oral interview and a behavioral assessment. Davenport has successfully completed the Ogden Police Department's field training officer program and six-month probationary period, said Ashment.
Ashment also commented on Davenport's hearing before the Utah Career Service Review Office. "I understand that after being hired by Ogden City, officer Davenport appealed the UHP termination decision in an effort to clear his name in regards to the UHP allegations," he said. "I received a copy of the findings of Officer Davenport's appeal to the Career Service Review Board today (Tuesday) regarding their decision to uphold Officer Davenport's termination, and am in the process of reviewing it."
Davenport remains certified by Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training. He was not on duty with Ogden police on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
Scott Stephenson, director of POST, said he could not specifically discuss Davenport's case. However, he said he is aware of law officers who have been terminated from one department for policy violations and then hired by another.
Law enforcement agencies have access to POST records, which indicate why an officer was fired, as part of the background check process for new hires, he said.
Except for the incident that led to his firing, Davenport appears to have been a model trooper and sergeant, the Utah Career Service Review Office said in its report.
Davenport was fired by UHP in January 2011 following his confrontation on Aug. 28, 2010, with motorist Darla Wright -- who was 59 at the time -- after a pursuit of her vehicle, which was speeding and weaving through traffic on Washington Boulevard in Ogden.
At one point, Davenport slammed his patrol car into Wright's vehicle in a Pursuit Intervention Technique maneuver that damaged the door to his patrol car, making it impossible to open by hand, states the report from the Utah Career Service Review Office.
After cornering Wright, Davenport kicked out his car door. As he got out of the vehicle, footage from a dash-cam video shows him quickly going up to the driver's side window of Wright's car, smashing in the window and punching Wright in the side of the head and jaw six times with a closed fist, the report says.
"Closed-fist punching by police on a civilian is so inherently violent that it brings to mind images of police brutality," the report states.
Davenport and other troopers communicated by radio during the pursuit of Wright, but there appeared to be no discussion among them about how to approach the vehicle upon conclusion of the chase, the report states.
Wright, who could not be reached for comment, was charged with failing to stop or respond at command of police. The charge was later dropped.
Wright received a $25,000 out-of-court settlement from the state over the incident, said UHP spokesman Dwayne Baird.
UHP officials determined that although the pursuit of Wright's vehicle was handled according to policy, Davenport should have coordinated troopers at the conclusion of the chase.
In addition, UHP officials testified during the career service review hearing that it was the use of closed-fist punches, not the number of times that Davenport struck Wright, that resulted in his firing.
In an attempt to show inconsistency of discipline, Davenport provided incident reports at the hearing indicating what he considered similar cases of misconduct by other troopers who were not terminated.
One example involved a trooper's off-duty conduct in which he attempted to hit an individual who was having a relationship with his wife. Another example involved an incident in which a trooper brandished his gun during a domestic dispute with his wife.
Davenport also provided reports in which troopers used force in one form or another, either through ground fighting or the use of a Taser, that did not result in discipline of any kind.
However, none of the incidents mentioned by Davenport involved the use of closed-fist punches in extracting an individual from a vehicle, the career service review office states in its report.
Davenport is the cousin of Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Lance Davenport. During Lance Davenport's tenure, no other UHP trooper has been terminated for excessive use of force.