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DA exonerates Jasper Police of wrongdoing

Posted on Sunday, September 24, 2023 at 9:00 am

DUANE SHERRILL

Contributor

 

The district attorney general has issued a report saying the Jasper Police Department used justifiable force in making the arrest of a car’s passenger during a traffic stop earlier this month in an incident that was caught on video by the car’s driver and then posted to the internet.

The video, which has received thousands of views since it was posted to Facebook, prompted a review of the incident by the 12th District Attorney General’s office.

“It is our conclusion that the use of force utilized by the officers was lawful and in accordance with the policies and procedures of the Jasper Police Department,” wrote Courtney C. Lynch, District Attorney General. “The presence of what appeared to be a firearm similar to the weapons used by SWAT teams gave the officers cause to ask Mr. Hrynecwicz to step out of the vehicle.”

In their press release, the DA said her office reviewed body cam footage captured by police during the incident.

“The District Attorney General’s office has completed its review of the incident which occurred on August 5, 2023, in Marion County wherein officers placed Samuel Hrynecwicz under arrest,” the DA said. “We reviewed all the bodycam footage from the arrest, the police report as well as interviewed Officer Graham. Our investigation was conducted by our criminal investigators, both of whom have extensive law enforcement experience. Several of my assistants have reviewed this information as well.”

The DA relayed the chain of events as they happened, all of which were reviewed by investigators.

“The vehicle was stopped for running a stop sign almost causing a collision. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer observed a SWAT type rifle in the backseat,” the DA said. “The passenger also appeared to be intoxicated. Mr. Hrynecwicz was the passenger. When Officer Graham arrived, the situation presented itself as one wherein an intoxicated individual was in the vehicle with a police-type rifle. Thus, given that state of affairs Officer Graham requested that he get out of the car for the safety of all the people involved. Mr. Hrynecwicz refused to get out of the vehicle. The officer utilized pepper spray in an effort to get Mr. Hrynecwicz out of the car.”

It was learned subsequent to the stop that one officer had to have his eyes cleared by paramedics at the scene after getting the blast of spray while another officer suffered a hair-line arm fracture.

“Some of the spray got in the officer’s eyes causing some impairment of his vision.” The DA said. “The officer attempted to call for backup, but his portable radio did not get out. He returned to his patrol unit, called for backup, and proceeded back to the vehicle containing Mr. Hrynecwicz. At this time Officer Graham attempted to use the tactic of brachial stun which is an open-handed blow to the neck which would temporarily stun the subject. Officer Graham is unable to form a fist due to a prior on duty injury. In the course of attempting to execute the brachial stun Mr. Hrynecwicz was struck in the face.”

It was after the incident that lawmen were able to determine the gun spotted in the rear seat was actually a toy.

“Once Mr. Hrynecwicz was out of the vehicle and handcuffed, the officers requested medical aid through the EMS personnel on scene,” the DA said. “They cleared him medically and while transporting him to the jail Mr. Hrynecwicz said he was sorry and knew where the officer was coming from. Officer Graham, after Mr. Hrynecwicz was handcuffed, retrieved the weapon, and discovered that it was an air rifle.”

Hrynecwicz is charged with resisting arrest and two counts of assault on an officer.