LOCAL NEWS

Salt Lake police officer charged with aggravated assault, pinning driver with truck

Jan 4, 2023, 10:32 AM | Updated: 10:33 am
FILE PHOTO...
FILE PHOTO

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake police officer is now facing a felony charge accusing him of injuring another driver during an off-duty confrontation in Ogden.

Thomas Edward Caygle, 37, of Clearfield, was charged Wednesday in 2nd District Court with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony; and negligently operating a vehicle resulting in injury, a class A misdemeanor.

The confrontation began about 5:50 p.m. Friday near the Newgate Mall when police say Caygle ran into the back of another vehicle stopped at a light. Caygle, a Salt Lake police officer who was off-duty at the time, was driving a large pickup truck. The other driver was in a Ford Fusion with his girlfriend. Charging documents describe the initial incident as a “minor accident.”

Cameras in the Fusion recorded the confrontation, which the owner uploaded to YouTube.

The video starts with the couple being bumped from behind. It was raining at the time. When the two men got out of their vehicles to talk, the Fusion driver said Caygle mentioned more than once that he was a police officer.

“I could also tell he was impaired and had slurred speech. I knew something was wrong here,” he states in his video.

The two vehicles then moved a short distance to get out of traffic. The man calls 911 to report the accident. When the two men again get out of their vehicles to talk while waiting for police to arrive, the victim says Caygle is “getting “increasingly agitated” and their conversation is “getting a little more heated.”

When the couple gets back into their vehicle, the girlfriend appears to be agitated with Caygle. The men then agree to move their vehicles again so they’re not blocking traffic. After moving, the victim driver got out of his car and walked to the rear of his vehicle. Moments later, a “thud” can be heard as Caygle’s truck hits the man and pins his legs between the two vehicles.

“Thomas would not reverse to release the person pinned between the cars,” the charges state.

In his video, the man says he was hit twice. He says after being pinned for 35 seconds, his girlfriend got into his car and drove it forward to free him. In the video, the man is seen falling to the ground after being freed as other bystanders who saw what was happening approach to help him.

The man was taken by ambulance to a local hospital to be treated for leg injuries. In pictures posted by the man, his right knee is visibly swollen with several cuts and bruises.

A Riverdale police officer was called to handle the incident due to an undisclosed conflict of interest. The officer noted that Caygle failed the field sobriety tests that were administered, the charges state.

“Witnesses said they could smell alcohol on Thomas’ breath and that he had slurred speech and had difficulty balancing. Thomas admitted to consuming alcohol prior to the accident,” according to the charges.

In the video, the injured driver expresses his anger at Caygle, whom he called an “evil monster,” and at the Salt Lake City Police Department and claims he is pursuing civil action.

In a statement released after the incident, Chief Mike Brown said Caygle has been placed on administrative leave.

“Our community expects the very best of its police officers at all times, including when off-duty and on personal time. We strive to exceed those expectations every day,” Brown stated. “In reviewing the information and materials I’ve received so far, I am concerned and disappointed by this incident, which does not align with our core values and expectations. Following the conclusion of our internal investigation, any violation of department policy will result in prompt and full accountability.”

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Salt Lake police officer charged with aggravated assault, pinning driver with truck