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Oklahoma City police officer charged in assault of motorist

An Oklahoma City police officer has been charged with assault. The charge stems from a traffic stop where a motorist yelled at the officer, police reported.
Oklahoman Modified: March 3, 2014 at 8:28 pm •  Published: March 3, 2014

“The guy was totally irrational,” Biegler said.

Police Chief Bill Citty directed the department’s office of professional standards to conduct a criminal investigation into the incident.

On Feb. 25, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater accepted a charge of assault and battery against Downing after internal affairs detectives presented the facts of their investigation.

Downing, 39, who has been a police officer 15 years, has been suspended with pay, police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.

Allegations in the past

It isn’t the first time Downing has been accused of misconduct.

Downing, along with three Oklahoma City police officers, also faced allegations of excessive force, according to a 2004 civil rights lawsuit.

Harold Henager fled police before being stopped with a tire-puncturing device at NW 4 and Villa on Sept. 18, 2003. According to a civil rights complaint Henager filed the following year, he stopped the vehicle and placed his hands on the steering wheel.

The suit accused Downing of spraying Henager’s face with pepper spray and pulling him from the truck by his hair.

While he was handcuffed on the ground, officers kicked Henager in the head, jumped up and down on the back of his knees, “destroying his knee joints forever,” choked him and hit him in the ribs with a flashlight, the suit alleged.

Henager pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from his arrest, including possession of heroin, eluding the police and driving under the influence of alcohol. He sued for more than $2 million in damages for the alleged beating.

A jury sided with the officers and awarded Henager nothing.

Downing also has been commended for his police work, including receiving an award in 2011 for traffic safety enforcement from the Oklahoma Buckle Down Awards, a program created to recognize officers for DUI and seat belt enforcement.

Downing has never been fired, demoted or given days off without pay as discipline, Nelson said.

by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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