The Edmond Sun

Local News

June 22, 2012

Ex-trooper from Edmond pleas in assault case

EDMOND — A former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper from Edmond has reached an agreement with prosecutors that will allow him to avoid jail time.

Mitch Nelson, 46, of Edmond, faced a misdemeanor assault and battery charge for allegedly kicking a suspect who was in custody following a double pursuit in 2010. The charge was filed in July 2011 in Oklahoma County District Court.

Earlier this week, Nelson entered a negotiated Alford plea and was sentenced to six months deferred sentence. As part of the agreement, he will drop a merit appeal with the OHP, surrender his CLEET card to prevent future employment as a law enforcement officer and accept termination from the OHP with no further action.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant denies having committed a crime, but agrees that if the prosecutor presented evidence there is a likelihood that a conviction could occur.

A message seeking comment from Gary James, Nelson’s attorney, was not returned by the time this story was filed.

On Feb. 20, 2010, officers from the Moore Police Department responded to a burglary call within their city limits, according to court records. They pursued a suspect until his car became disabled.

The suspect was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car, police said. A short time later, he was able to move his handcuffs to the front of his body and take control of the patrol car, leading to a second pursuit.

Officers from several agencies responded to this pursuit, which ended when the suspect crashed the car near Southwest 45th Avenue and Blackwelder in Oklahoma City, police said.

Several officers removed the suspect from the car and placed him on the ground still handcuffed, police said.

During a post-incident interview with police which was included in an affidavit filed by Capt. Damon Tucker, Moore Police Lt. Rodney Tompkins said the suspect was removed from the car and placed face down on the ground with his hands handcuffed in the front.

Tompkins said he was standing near the suspect and recalled that a trooper walked up between the suspect’s legs. Tompkins reported the trooper said something like does anyone have their cameras on or is anyone filming.

Tompkins said Moore officers had their cameras on, but was not sure the trooper heard his reply. A short time later a helicopter either left the area or turned its light off.

After the helicopter left the trooper kicked the suspect between the legs, Tompkins said. In describing the kick, Tompkins said the trooper’s foot actually drug in the grass as if he was trying to kick him in the testicles, not just in the rear. He described it as a very hard kick, he said.

Tompkins asked one of the Moore officers to get the trooper’s information and eventually received Mitch Nelson’s business card, police said. Regarding the kick, Tompkins said he felt like, in his opinion, it was an assault and battery.

Another officer also described a trooper walking up and intentionally kicking the suspect in the crotch, police said.

Both the suspect and Nelson declined to be interviewed during the criminal investigation. |

341-2121, ext. 108

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