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Grantsville businessman's influence endangering patrol officers, fired cop says

By Lori Prichard | Posted - Jul. 23, 2012 at 11:11 p.m.



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GRANTSVILLE - A former Grantsville police officer is raising questions about whether a business owner in town is wielding too much influence on the mayor and police department.

Carl Peterson says that influence is putting officers who patrol the streets there at risk.

"We've kind of made a joke around the office that 'why don't you give us a list of the people you don't want us to mess with and then we'll just save us some time,'" said Peterson.

A Routine Traffic Stop?

Carl Peterson was fired from the Grantsville Police Department back in February because he says he picked the wrong guy in town to arrest.

"It doesn't matter if you're doing your job or not with this Garrin Johnson," Peterson said.

Garrin Johnson is a longtime resident of Grantsville and owns a salvage and recycling business in town.

On February 21st, Peterson and Johnson crossed paths when Peterson pulled over a utility vehicle for a revoked registration and no insurance.


It doesn't matter if you're doing your job or not with this Garrin Johnson,

–Carl Peterson, former Grantsville police officer


Police dashcam of the incident shows another vehicle pulling up alongside the stopped car.

Peterson says he told the driver, whom he says he later found out to be Garrin Johnson, repeatedly to leave the scene. Despite those warnings, the dashcam video shows Johnson pulling in front of the stopped vehicle, parking and getting out.

"He says, ‘You know who I am? You know who I am?' Then, he starts playing with this coat. He puts his hand in his pocket and at that point I saw a black thing in his hand," Peterson said.

The grainy dashcam video does not show exactly what is in Johnson's hand, though he told KSL it was a cell phone. Johnson also said he posed no threat to warrant Peterson pulling his police-issued handgun.

"So, he come running at me. You can see that in the video with his weapon pointed at me," Garrin Johnson said. "Of course I am a combat veteran, okay, it didn't intimidate me at all because I knew he was quite a spineless individual anyway."

Johnson believes the officer was way out of line and had no grounds to pull his weapon.

"When I pulled my gun, he goes, 'I'm going to take that gun from you,'" Peterson said.

"I saidl, 'I should take that gun away from you,' I did say that," Johnson said, confirming what Peterson told KSL. "For him to treat me that way is ridiculous to handcuff me when I wasn't a threat to him."

Peterson says he believed Johnson was a threat because of the at-first-glance unidentifiable object in his hand. He also says Johnson was belligerent and would not follow his command to leave the scene.

"I got closer and noticed it was just a cell phone. So, I push him with my foot and holster my weapon. Push him again and kind of flip him around. He kept fighting with me. So, I pull out my Taser," Peterson said.

Carl Peterson, a former Grantsville police 
officer, is raising questions about whether or 
not Grantsville business owner Garrin Johnson 
has too much political influence in the city.
Carl Peterson, a former Grantsville police officer, is raising questions about whether or not Grantsville business owner Garrin Johnson has too much political influence in the city.

"I said, ‘You should call Chief Johnson this is out of your league.'" Johnson recalled telling Peterson, "I says, ‘You're in trouble here. You better call Dan Johnson.'"

Dan Johnson was police chief of Grantsville at the time of the incident. In April, he retired from his post after he lost his police certification in an unrelated matter.

"It's okay for this guy to show up and do whatever he wants because all he has to do is call the mayor and the chief," Peterson said.

"Chief Johnson, I've known him for a long time," Johnson said. "The mayor, I've known him for a long time. But I think absolutely I wasn't shown any favoritism because I was arrested and taken up to jail and I had to bail out."

Peterson says Chief Johnson drove to the stop and the mayor was notified Johnson had been arrested. Court documents show Johnson was arrested for disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice, failure to stop at the command of the law enforcement and a minimum speed regulation violation.

An Internal Investigation

"The chief stated that he believed that I pulled my weapon not because I feared for my safety but because I was mad," Peterson said.

Peterson admits he was mad. He tells KSL he became angry only after he checked Johnson's identification and found out who he had arrested. Peterson says he had never met Johnson before but was aware of his friendship with the chief and the mayor.

"It's okay for this guy to show up and do whatever he wants because all he has to do is call the mayor and the chief," Peterson said.

"Of course I was mad when I found out who it was," he said.

In Peterson's recorded internal investigation interview with the mayor, chief and lieutenant, Peterson explains that:

Lt. Steve Barrett: "Your exact words to me were 'I'm ***** pissed off." Peterson: "I was at that point." Barrett: "That's what you told me." Peterson: "I was at that point because now I know who I'm dealing with. We've got a situation - - why is it that every time I've pulled someone involved with this guy the chief has shown up on site?....What the hell is going on with this guy? Why is he able to escape?" Chief Dan Johnson: "We're not on trial here. We're not under investigation."

Terminated from the Force

Peterson was terminated four days after the interview and a week after the stop took place.


The mayor, I've known him for a long time. But I think absolutely I wasn't shown any favoritism because I was arrested and taken up to jail and I had to bail out.

–Garrin Johnson


Personnel documents provided by Peterson show he was terminated for use of force, use of deadly force, dishonesty, and truthfulness required in reports. Documents also show Peterson had been issued previous reprimands in his three year tenure there. Those reprimands included punctuality, driving his patrol car into the mud, and driving his patrol car through a field. However, Peterson claims his termination from the department had little to do with his previous reprimands or his ability as a police officer. Instead, he says he simply picked the wrong guy in town to arrest.

"I felt like it put the safety of the officers at risk because the chief and the mayor showing up on scene and rescuing him and different things," Peterson said. "He can do whatever he wants. And there's nothing you officers are really going to do about it."

"I was arrested and went to court and made a deal with the city attorney," Johnson said discounting any suggestion he was treated differently because of his relationship with the mayor and police chief.

Court records show Johnson was charged with disorderly conduct, minimum speed regulations violation, fail(ure) to stop at command of the law, and obstruction of justice. Johnson pleaded guilty to the obstruction of justice charge in exchange for a plea in abeyance. Johnson says the charges will be wiped clean from his record if he stays out of trouble for six months.

KSL made repeated requests to Grantsville city for an interview. Mayor Brent Marshall declined our request. However, he did provide a prepared statement that reads: "It is the policy of Grantsville City that it does not discuss any personnel matter regarding any specific employee. Grantsville City's internal investigation process complies with due process requirements through which every employee receives a fair and just process. Grantsville City stands behind its actions involving any internal affairs investigation."

As for the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council that certifies police officers, the director tells KSL that the incident involving Peterson has been forwarded to POST by the Grantsville Police Department. At this time, POST is reviewing the matter to see if Peterson's violation of Grantsville Police policy rises to the level of a POST investigation.

Lori Prichard

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