OGDEN — Former Police Chief Jon Greiner says he was never informed Andrew L. Davenport had been fired from the Utah Highway Patrol for punching a 59-year-old female motorist before he was given a job in June 2011 as an Ogden patrolman.
“I had a recommendation that he should be hired,” Greiner said Friday, adding the recommendation would have come from the Ogden Police Department’s lieutenants and assistant chiefs. “I didn’t know of information that said he had been fired.”
Greiner also said if he had known of Davenport’s firing, he may have asked about the reason for the termination.
The Ogden Police Department sent an investigator to meet with state Department of Human Resource Management officials to conduct a background check on Davenport following his firing from the UHP and before his hiring by the city, Dwayne Baird, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety, said on Friday.
The investigator was informed why Davenport was fired, he said.
Davenport could have resigned before dismissal from his post as sergeant with the UHP in February 2011 for violating the agency’s excessive force policy, Baird said.
Davenport could not be reached for comment.
Davenport’s firing stems from 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.
A report from the Utah Career Service Review Office said patrol car dash-cam video shows Davenport punching Wright in the side of the head and jaw six times with a closed fist, which is in violation of UHP policy.
Davenport, according to his reports of the incident, punched Wright to gain her compliance to commands and to get control of her hands in order to shut off her vehicle.
Wright was charged with failing to stop or respond at command of police as a result of the incident. The charge was later dropped.
Davenport passed an extensive background screening before being hired by the city, Ogden Police Chief Mike Ashment, who took office in March, has said.
Ashment could not be reached Friday regarding whether Greiner was informed of the reason why Davenport was fired from the UHP.
There was no reason why Davenport shouldn’t have been hired by Ogden police, Greiner said.
Davenport was cleared by city and Weber County prosecutors, passed a psychological examination, scored at the top of the list of applicants and is certified by the Utah Peace Officers Standards and Training, Greiner said.
“Ogden got a green light (to hire Davenport),” he said.
POST didn’t take any action against Davenport for his firing from the UHP and usually only investigates criminal allegations, not policy violations, Baird said.
Wright received a $25,000 out-of-court settlement from the state in March 2011 for agreeing not to sue over the incident, according to a document the Standard-
Examiner obtained from the Utah Department of Public Safety.
The settlement is fair because his client didn’t suffer any permanent physical damages, said Damian W. Kidd, who is Wright’s attorney. Wright has told KSL-TV in Salt Lake City she believes Davenport shouldn’t be allowed to work as a police officer.
“He doesn’t deserve a second chance,” she said to KSL. “That’s not how an officer of the law, that’s not how you’re supposed to react.”
Davenport said he had only a few options to prevent Wright from possibly running over officers with her vehicle: either get inside the car, which could pose a danger, turn off the ignition or physically subdue her.
“I wouldn’t get in there (inside the vehicle),” he said.