Deputy’s groin grab reasonable, sheriff says

A deputy’s move to grab the testicles of a man who was resisting arrest was reasonable given the circumstances, albeit unorthodox, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday.

Sheriff’s Department Deputy Hassan Hassan wrote in an arrest affidavit that 22-year-old Samuel Fazio “quit resisting” after the deputy grabbed Fazio’s genitals for a period of about “two to three seconds,” which happened after an alleged physical encounter Monday when Fazio fought attempts to be handcuffed. Fazio allegedly hit the deputy in the mouth at one point with his elbow.

“Constant pressure was not applied to Fazio in this maneuver as I let up as soon as he quit resisting and we gained compliance,” Hassan wrote of the groin grab, according to the affidavit.

While not taught by the department, the move is not out of line with force policy, Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said.

“Deputies are taught to look for opportunities to gain compliance quickly, and in this case the actions are deemed reasonable although not ordinary,” she said.

Benjamin said the same standard would apply to a woman resisting arrest, although she noted, “The technique would not be effective with a female.”

The deputy, who was among two at the scene, also had access to a Taser.

“There is no guarantee of effectiveness, and there has to be time to grab it and deploy it,” Benjamin said of a Taser.

It was determined Fazio did not suffer serious bodily injury, and a formal complaint was not lodged against the deputy by Fazio, she said.

Hassan and Deputy Jenna Reed responded Monday to a home in order to arrest Fazio on a warrant on suspicion of several possible charges, including criminal impersonation. Fazio also allegedly failed to appear in court in June in a felony burglary case.

The affidavit said Fazio yanked his arms away as the deputies tried to handcuff him. He attempted to run but was grabbed by Hassan and dropped to the ground, the affidavit said. Fazio allegedly ignored repeated commands to stop resisting before striking the deputy with his elbow, the affidavit said.

Aside from the warrants, Fazio was booked into the Mesa County Jail on suspicion of second-degree assault and resisting arrest.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told a judge Tuesday it was unclear whether the District Attorney’s office would file the felony assault charge.


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