SALT LAKE CITY — Vincent Blackmore compares what happened to his wife to police responding to a home invasion, but then arresting the homeowner and leaving the intruder in the living room.
"They just reacted 100% different than any normal police officer would have acted," he said Thursday.
Blackmore and his wife, Danyale Blackmore — who is the owner of the My Place Hotel, 1167 W. 80 South in Hurricane — are suing both the Hurricane Police Department and Washington County Sheriff's Office after she was arrested at her own hotel and taken to jail, all while an allegedly intoxicated hotel guest accused of causing damage to their building was allowed to stay.
On Wednesday, the couple and their attorney, Robert Sykes, filed a civil rights lawsuit against two Hurricane police officers who arrested her. The lawsuit claims the officers used excessive force and a sheriff's deputy conducted an illegal strip search.
"(It's) one of the most outrageous assaults on a hard working, honest citizen that I've seen in my practice," Sykes said Thursday.
The incident happened early on the morning of Jan. 6, 2020. A hotel guest called 911 claiming he forgot his room key inside his room and was locked outside the building, then got back into the hotel by kicking in a door, but couldn't find anybody working.
Hurricane officers Jared Carlson and Eric DeMille responded to the hotel and met the man in the parking lot.
"There's nobody in the lobby, nothing. I've been knocking on the door for a half hour or so. I've been walking up and down the stairs screaming, 'hello.' Nobody will answer," he told the officers in body camera video released Thursday by Sykes.
In the lawsuit, the man is described as being "seriously intoxicated." He admits to the officers that he kicked in the sliding front door — knocking it off its track — to get inside. Once in the lobby, the man claimed he did not see a sign prominently displayed at the front desk telling guests that the attendant is away, and "For immediate assistance please dial 0 on the phone in the lounge."
The officers walked back into the hotel with the man and Carlson used the phone in the lobby to dial 0. Danyale Blackmore answered the phone.
In body camera video, Carlson remains polite but appears to grow frustrated when Blackmore refuses to come to the lobby.
"Can you come to the front desk, please?" Carlson asked several times. "There's a guy here that's locked out of his room."
In the lawsuit, the Blackmores contend that they were at a family funeral the day before and that Danyale Blackmore "had not slept for roughly 24 hours. Danyale couldn't understand why the officers would be at the hotel. She had been given training by My Place to be very cautious about rushing to the front desk after hours."
At one point, Carlson is heard telling Blackmore, "Ma'am, can you just dial 911 then?" in response to her questioning whether he is actually a police officer. "In the north parking lot there's two police cars, I promise you."
Carlson is then heard on his body camera telling Blackmore, "I don't appreciate you swearing at me" and again tries to convince her that he is standing in the hotel lobby. When he gets off the phone, Carlson tells the other officer, "She's like cussing me out ... saying she's not going to come down."
The Blackmores on Thursday explained there were only two guests in the hotel that night and they believed the call from police was a prank call because they couldn't see any police vehicles.
The officers then had the hotel guest who was locked out call Blackmore. A few moments later, she is seen walking toward him from a first floor hallway and immediately states, "I want you gone. Right now. If he can get in to that door, he can get in to that door," while motioning to a room door. "I want him out. Go away."
As Blackmore continues to tell the officers to "get rid of him," and starts to move closer to the man, Carlson steps in and tells Blackmore to "hold on, hold on." He then orders her to move into the hallway, away from the hotel guest, so he can speak to her.
"The officers never told Danyale not to approach (the guest). Since she was not threatening (him) or anyone else, there was no need for (the officers) to give such orders," the lawsuit alleges.
The Blackmores further contend it was in Danyale Blackmore's right to have the guest removed, but the officers refused her request.
In the video, Blackmore appears to start walking toward the guest again, when Carlson sticks out his hand and appears to give Blackmore a little shove. Blackmore's demeanor immediately goes from confrontational to emotional and crying.
"Will you not touch me? Don't (expletive) touch me. Don't touch me," she wails.
As Blackmore continues to yell and after Carlson tells her to stop, the officer grabs her arm behind her back and pushes Blackmore against a wall to place handcuffs on her. Blackmore continues to scream, "No" and "Don't touch me."
The lawsuit describes Blackmore as being "forcefully assaulted" and "brutally pushed" by the officer.
Carlson, in a police affidavit, wrote, "I put my hands out and stopped Danyale from walking past me. I was concerned by her behavior that she was going to assault the male or try and force him out of the hotel. Danyale continued to yell and scream. It appeared Danyale was trying to move around me again as she continued to yell. I grabbed Danyale's arms and placed them behind her back in order to detain her and restrain her for my safety and the safety of others present."
The lawsuit contends that the police affidavit contains "significant falsehoods and inaccuracies, purposefully omitting critical information."
"Right now, you're under arrest," Carlson says in the body camera video as he places handcuffs on Blackmore.
"Why am I under arrest? I didn't do anything wrong. It's my hotel," she cries. "Stop it. Stop it please. I'm asking you please just stop."
"I'm telling you to stop right now. I told you to stop. I told you not to approach him. I stopped you from going up to him because I was concerned that you were going to confront him," Carlson replies.
As Blackmore was led out of her hotel, she continues to plead her case.
"Please stop. I'm reasonable. Please don't do this. I'm the only one at the hotel. He broke my door open," she says. "Why are you arresting me? Can you tell me? … I haven't done anything wrong. He broke the door open guys, can't you see that?"
After putting Blackmore in his vehicle, the officer went back to the hotel guest and eventually told him that if the window to his room is open to just crawl through it.
Twice during the video recording, Carlson turned off his mic. He did it once while speaking with the hotel guest and once while speaking to DeMille.
When he returned to his vehicle, DeMille can be heard speaking to Blackmore.
"Knock it off. You're acting like a child," he says, as the woman continues to try and explain the hotel's procedures for a guest who is locked out.
"The problem is not with that. The problem is you not listening to us and being so damn drunk that you're being stupid. That's the problem, That's why you're in a cop car right now," DeMille responds.
As Carlson prepares to drive Blackmore to jail, he is heard saying on his police radio that, "She's pretty drunk and mad."
Blackmore was charged in Hurricane Justice Court with interfering with an arrest, a class B misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct, an infraction. A pre-trial conference in that case is scheduled for June 9.
While being booked into jail, Blackmore was forced to undergo an unnecessary strip search in front of several male deputies, the lawsuit states.
"To have all those men watch me strip off my clothes was so humiliating," she said in tears on Thursday.
The Blackmores say damage to the door was $18,000.
The lawsuit also contends that Hurricane police have been intimidating the Blackmores at the hotel since the incident occurred.
Hurricane police declined comment on Thursday stating they had not yet been served with the lawsuit.