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Man acquitted of kidnapping tells his side of the story

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The man acquitted of kidnapping his neighbor's children is now telling his side of the story, along with announcing his plans to sue his attackers and possibly the police department that handled the investigation.

David James Bell spoke passionately Monday about wanting to see his attackers pay for what they did. His defense attorneys stood by and heavily criticized the South Salt Lake police investigation.

"As long as people who attacked me are still free, I'm not free," Bell said.

A jury found David James Bell not guilty of kidnapping charges last week. Now, instead of moving on with his life, he's moving on with civil charges of his own.

"I also live in fear that I'm going to be attacked again," he said.

Bell's neighbors claimed that in 2008 he took their children from their home during a July Fourth party.

Bell said the night of the party, he couldn't find his cat, so he propped open the front door and left it open. He said he went to his neighbors to ask if they'd seen his cat. When he went back home, he saw the neighbor's two children standing in their front yard.

Bell said one of the children asked for Kool-Aid, so he told them to wait there and he would go get some from his house. Bell said the kids followed him but didn't come inside. He turned around and saw them in the doorway. He gave them the drink and said that's when LuLu Latu, the mother, found the kids and screamed.

When family members found the children at his door, they assaulted Bell, as well as his partner, Dan Fair.

"And before I could say one word, I was attacked. She swung at me several times, hit me around the head and neck. Smacked me into my refrigerator where I started to fall down," he said. "She said, ‘You're dead,' and called us faggot pedophiles as she left."

Once the children's mother, Lulu Latu, left, Bell says several other family members dragged him outside and threw him on the ground.

"Continued to pull back of my hair, my head up by my hair, and smacked my head repeatedly into the cement," he said.

Bell's attorney, Susanne Gustin, said, "They did not leave DJ alone ‘til he was unconscious and they thought he was dead."

Bell's defense attorneys are hoping the District Attorney files criminal attempted murder charges against the attackers. For now, Bell has hired civil attorneys to go after the family, and possibly the South Salt Lake Police Department.

His camp says not all the witnesses were interviewed and not all the evidence was gathered properly.

"I'm not being highly critical of cops, because I realize that cops are humans and they make mistakes, but if you don't investigate a case, don't present it to the D.A. Just say, ‘You know what, we wanted to enjoy our Fourth of July and we blew it,'" Gustin said.

The district attorney has reopened the investigation, and because of that, they can't comment and neither can the South Salt Lake Police Department.

The Latu family has not responded to our attempts to contact them, either.

Composed with contributions from Anne Forester, Paul Nelson and Nicole Gonzales

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