COURTS & LEGAL

Bountiful officer in $1M lawsuit was reprimanded for punching woman, 64, in the face

Feb 26, 2024, 2:40 PM | Updated: 2:42 pm

BOUNTIFUL — An internal investigation from the Bountiful Police Department found its own Cpl. Jon Joubert used excessive force while arresting 64-year-old Gretta Jensen in December 2020. Body camera footage shows Joubert appearing to punch Jensen in the face while she is on the ground as she yells for help.

Jensen, of North Salt Lake, has filed a $1 million federal lawsuit against Joubert, alleging that he violated her constitutional rights by using excessive force when he arrested her. She also argues that she had committed no crime.

In the lawsuit filed in October 2023, Jensen claims the arrest caused “severe physical pain, including a broken jaw, facial trauma, bilateral shoulder injury, elbow injury, head injury, neck injury, and other physical pain and suffering.”

Joubert, who has worked for Bountiful police for 15 years and has no past disciplinary history, disagreed with the results of the department’s investigation, saying his actions were “reasonable and necessary.”

The arrest

Police received a call from a landlord after Jensen, the ex-wife of a tenant, appeared to be yelling at the tenant and standing outside his car so he couldn’t leave.

Joubert arrived at a house in a Bountiful neighborhood near 200 East and 650 North about 4 p.m. He later testified in a deposition, “As I approached them, I remember I could hear Gretta pretty loud, sounded upset.” He said she had been standing at the driver’s door of her ex-husband’s car, who had his window rolled up, and that the situation was “corroborating exactly what I was told by dispatch.”

Body camera footage shows the officer sending the ex-husband into his house to separate the two, and he began questioning Jensen.

Joubert said in the deposition he asked “basic questions and was met with just an unusual amount of resistance that was puzzling to me. I tried to explain as best I could why I was doing what I was doing, and trying to deescalate things. Everything I tried didn’t seem effective.”

He claimed he “couldn’t control the scene,” while waiting for another officer to arrive.

Body camera footage shows the interaction between the two continues to escalate. Jensen says, “Your ego is out of control, just stop. I’m not doing anything wrong.” Joubert brings up a “domestic violence possible issue,” at which point Jensen scoffs and says, “OK, I’m going,” and begins walking away from the officer. Joubert tells her to stop and grabs her arms to make an arrest.

Gretta Jensen walks away before she is arrested in December of 2020. She has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a Bountiful police officer used excessive force by punching her in the face and breaking her jaw

Gretta Jensen walks away before she is arrested in December of 2020. She has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a Bountiful police officer used excessive force by punching her in the face and breaking her jaw. (The Bountiful Police Department)

The woman resists, yelling, “Please stop, please don’t make this something it’s not.” She continues to ask Joubert to stop as she’s pinned to a wall, and says she had shoulder surgery. They both fall to the ground, and Joubert says, “Put you hands behind your (expletive) back,” before appearing to punch her in the face.

The lawsuit says Joubert slammed Jension into a concrete driveway three separate times and punched her in the face.

Another officer jumps in to take over the arrest, while Jensen yells, “He hit me in the face, I didn’t do nothing,” and, “He busted my jaw.”

Jensen was taken to Lakeview Hospital for treatment and was found to have a fractured jaw, the lawsuit says. Joubert later requested that Jensen provide restitution to replace his pants, which had gotten torn in the scuffle, according to court documents.

The landlord of the property told police he had been receiving complaints from the neighbors for months. He claimed Jensen would wait for her ex-husband in his stairwell when he got home from work and after he started locking the entrance to the stairwell, Jensen would yell at him through his window wells.

Evidence submitted in court shows various texts between the landlord and neighbors. On Dec 4, a week before the arrest, one neighbor said, “She’s out there yelling/talking at him at the window well if you guys are home and can talk to her.” On the day of the arrest, the same neighbor wrote, “She’s back today. She’s literally yelling at him while he’s in his car, like trapping him.”

A North Salt Lake woman, 64, yells as she being arrested in December of 2020. She has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a Bountiful police officer used excessive force by punching her in the face and breaking her jaw.

A North Salt Lake woman, 64, yells as she was being arrested in December of 2020. She has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a Bountiful police officer used excessive force by punching her in the face and breaking her jaw. (The Bountiful Police Department)

The landlord claimed his tenant told him Jensen was not welcome. About three weeks before the incident, the landlord told police he’d confronted her and she became “defensive and angry,” but he “tried to avoid this type of escalation.”

Jensen was charged with interfering with an arresting officer, a class B misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct, an infraction, but the Bountiful city prosecutor dismissed those charges a month later.

Written reprimand

On March 9, 2021, the Bountiful Police Department held a formal hearing concerning allegations that Joubert had violated several department policies during the arrest.

Bountiful Police Chief Edward Biehler issued a written reprimand, finding that Joubert “striking Gretta Jensen in the face was unreasonable and unnecessary,” according to documents obtained Friday by KSL.com through a public records request.

“You are younger, bigger, stronger, have a higher skill level, uninjured — she said she was injured — and had officers visually arriving,” the chief wrote. Additionally, Biehler found that “just prior to (Joubert) striking her in the face, (Joubert) told her to put her hands behind her back. She was physically unable to comply with that command as you were on top of her and pinning her arms to her chest.” Also, Joubert released an arm he had in control, to punch Jensen in the face, the reprimand says.

Five officers involved in reviewing the aspects of the case had similar observations, according to the reprimand. “Every one of those officers said this incident looks bad and that they would not have used that level of force in that situation. That is five reasonable officers suggesting that they would not have used that level of force,” Biehler said.

“Further investigation was reasonable and that the further detention was appropriate,” the police chief said, after it was alleged Joubert did not have a lawful reason to detain Jensen.

In addition to the written reprimand, Joubert was instructed to attend a remedial defensive tactics class. Biehler also wrote to Joubert, saying, “These actions appear to be out of character for you, as there are no other disciplines regarding your use of force and treatment of the public.”

In the deposition for Jensen’s lawsuit, Joubert said he disagreed with the final findings of his hearing, saying, “Given the exact situation I was put in, I feel that what I did was reasonable and necessary.” He said he had no regrets, and does not believe there has been a time in his career where he’s used force in a way he didn’t think was right.

Jensen’s civil lawsuit against Joubert remains ongoing. She is seeking damages of $1 million plus attorney fees and punitive damages.

Jensen said Bountiful offered her a $20,000 settlement, but she turned it down after she was advised the city was “lowballing her,” she told KSL.com. She said the city later offered her a $115,000 settlement, which she also rejected.

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Bountiful officer in $1M lawsuit was reprimanded for punching woman, 64, in the face