Body camera footage clears officer's name

Hannah Grover
This still from the body camera footage of Farmington police Officer Hunter Weaver shows a man lying on the ground of a parking lot on Jan. 25 outside a local business.

FARMINGTON — After a bystander accused a Farmington police officer of beating a Native American man, the department released body camera footage that appears to clear the officer.

A Facebook post showed an image of Officer Hunter Weaver standing over a man who was lying on the ground in a parking lot next to Weaver's patrol car on Jan. 25 outside a Dollar Tree on Broadway Avenue. The post stated, "Only in Farmington. Farmington police bears down native American while cuffed." The post, which was shared more than 900 times before the commenter took it down, also states that the bystander had confronted the officer.

The Farmington Police Department learned of the Facebook post on Tuesday and began an investigation. Farmington Police Department spokeswoman Georgette Allen said after reviewing the officer's lapel-mounted body camera footage, officials determined that Weaver had been arresting the intoxicated man — who was banned from the business by a court order — when the man fell and hit his head.

Weaver attempted to catch the man, but was unsuccessful. The officer then can be heard asking the man if he is all right and calling for an ambulance.

Allen said all Farmington police officers wear lapel cameras as a way to hold the department accountable and to exonerate officers in cases like this one. She said the department invested in lapel cameras in 2011.

The Facebook post was deleted after a Farmington police lieutenant spoke with the person who originally posted it, Allen said.

Department officials posted a response on Facebook to clear up what the department said was misinformation, Allen said. She said the department feared the post could hurt Weaver's reputation and damaged the relationship between the police department and the community.

The Jan. 25 video shows Weaver escorting a 48-year-old man who had been sleeping in the entrance of the Dollar Tree on Broadway Avenue out of the building. The man appears confused in the video and, while Weaver is handcuffing him, he falls and hits his head. The man appears to be unconscious for a brief time, but is awake and talking to Weaver when paramedics arrive.

The man was charged with criminal trespass and released.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.