Dickinson police say evidence contradicts excessive force claim
DICKINSON, N.D. — Dickinson Police Chief Dustin Dassinger says evidence “unequivocally discredits and contradicts” claims that an officer used excessive force in making an arrest earlier this month.
Dassinger issued the statement Tuesday, Jan. 28, regarding the arrest of Chelsey Borden inside the Holiday convenience store Jan. 18.
“The Dickinson Police Department made a lawful arrest of an individual actively engaged in a physical altercation in a local gas station. The individual arrested was identified as the primary aggressor engaged in the altercation witnessed by the arresting officer,” Dassinger said in the statement. “The Dickinson Police Department has a zero-tolerance approach to fighting and tumultuous conduct in public. Physical arrests are always made in these cases when probable cause exists, and the offense occurs in the officer’s presence.”
The statement continued, “The defendant, Chelsey Borden, was cited for disorderly conduct and resisting an officer ... As to the criminal charges pending against the defendant, Chelsey Borden, the evidence obtained through the investigation unequivocally discredits and contradicts the version of the events as stated by the defendant to the Dickinson Press.”
The statement concludes by saying that the city prosecutor will pursue charges against the defendant based on evidence available.
Borden said she was highly upset by the statement, maintaining that Officer Chad Hopponen used excessive force.
“There is no way that the video and audio evidence discredits anything that I said,” Borden said. “You can clearly see me with my hands up, you can clearly see the officer forcing me to the ground. There is nothing that was said to you that can be discredited, and the video will prove that.”
Capt. Joe Cianni said that the criminal case and associated internal review of the arrest remains open and active.
“For this reason, our department will not release any pertinent evidence regarding this case,” he said. “This is to maintain the integrity of the criminal and internal process. We pride ourselves on conducting thorough investigations and doing our due diligence without prematurely releasing information regardless of any artificial outside pressure or triggers.”
The police department maintains that the entirety of the available public information will be released after the conclusion of investigative and judicial proceedings.
“As always, that information remains an open record. Once this matter has been fully resolved in a court of law and the internal investigation has been completed, more information can be disclosed,” Cianni said.
In posting the statement on its Facebook page, the Dickinson Police Department referred to the incident as an “alleged police brutality toward a suspect.” The statement prompted Borden to respond.
“I hate that they said ‘police brutality,’ because that was never once mentioned in the article or in any statements I made about this,” Borden said. “This isn’t brutality — it’s unnecessary and excessive force by this officer in an arrest where I had my hands up and all parties involved had stopped the verbal and physical altercation on request. He didn’t beat me up, but he did use more force than was necessary. He took the matter to level 20 instead of de-escalating the situation, and it sucks that this video can’t be released, because it will show the truth.”
Borden said she has retained an attorney and will fight the matter in court.
“Their claim that this discredits everything that I said is patently false,” she said. “I will be in court on Thursday to fight it.”
The case has been docketed in Dickinson’s Municipal Court at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, for the misdemeanors of disorderly conduct and resisting an officer.
Internal police records concerning Hopponen show no substantiated claims against him on record, nor any allegations levied for excessive use of force in his time as an officer with the department.