September 16, 2016, 9:34 a.m. Updated September 16, 2016, 3:10 p.m.
A Lawrence police officer swept the legs out from an uncooperative man and punched him in the face as many as four times during an August arrest, an investigation concluded.
At a news conference Friday, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said a single misdemeanor charge of battery has been filed against Frank McClelland, who is no longer a Lawrence police officer.
On Aug. 16 an officer was dispatched to the 1900 block of 19th Street for a report of two men fighting, Branson said. Unable to separate the men, the officer used pepper spray and called for backup. McClelland was the next officer to arrive on the scene.
One of the men “refused to comply with Officer McClelland’s request to sit on the sidewalk,” Branson said. “Officer McClelland approached (the man) with a leg-sweep maneuver and placed (him) on the ground and proceeded to strike (him) in the face up to four times with a closed fist.”
The man McClelland allegedly punched was arrested, but no charges were ultimately filed against the two men who had been fighting, Branson said.
Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib said at an earlier news conference Friday that another officer heard from a witness that McClelland used excessive force and reported the incident to a supervisor.
The next day Branson said he was contacted by Khatib, who also contacted Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern to initiate an independent investigation.
At the same time, Khatib said the Lawrence Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability launched its own internal investigation.
The independent investigation’s results were delivered to the district attorney’s office on Sept. 9 and McClelland was subsequently issued a summons to appear in court in October for the charge filed against him.
During the sheriff’s investigation, the man who was arrested and 13 other witnesses were interviewed, including other Lawrence police officers who responded to the call, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kristen Dymacek said. In-car video footage was also reviewed.
The OPA’s investigation also found misconduct, Khatib said.
“The internal investigation did in fact find that the officer did use excessive physical force on an individual and the officer resigned his position with the department,” he said.
McClelland’s last day with the department was Aug. 30.
“I’m disappointed, very angry and embarrassed that I’m here to report to you today how we have failed to meet the expectations of our community, and, I think, quite frankly, the expectations we have for ourselves at the Lawrence Police Department,” Khatib said.
Khatib did, however, commend the officer who reported the misconduct to a supervisor.
McClelland’s exit from the department on Aug. 30 also coincided with the publication of a Journal-World story detailing an excessive-force lawsuit filed against the city.
The lawsuit, which is not related to recent accusations leveled against McClelland, was filed by Lawrence firefighter Miguel Armenta.
McClelland and two other Lawrence police officers, who are still employed with the department, were named in the lawsuit.
During court proceedings witnesses testified that McClelland beat a man’s head against a squad car during a 2014 arrest.
Armenta said several officers, including McClelland, broke his arm when they arrested him after he spoke out against McClelland’s actions.
The lawsuit was dropped by Armenta just days before it was scheduled to go to trial after Judge Paula Martin ruled against admitting much of the evidence sought by Armenta’s attorney.
Branson said he is unaware of any other investigations into McClelland’s conduct or any other allegations of misconduct.
McClelland is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 27 at 3 p.m.