South Salt Lake Police Department claims it was the Salt Lake District Attorney's office that decided to not file--or delay filing--charges against the attackers of DJ Bell and Dan Fair. At the same time, Bell's attorneys are accusing the police of misconduct that stretches beyond the original incident.
Bell, 31, formerly of South Salt Lake, was accused of kidnapping two children, ages 2 and 4, from his next door neighbor on July 5, 2008. He and his boyfriend, Fair, were then severely attacked. While Bell was put on trial for kidnapping--and faced decades in prison--the attackers have not been criminally charged. Bell was acquitted of kidnapping and burglary charges Sept. 25.
According to the SSLPD press release:
An investigation was conducted and the information was presented to the District Attorney’s Office for its decision whether to pursue both kidnapping charges against Mr. Bell and assault charges against the parents and guests.
The press release came two days after Bell and his defense attorney announced he and Fair may sue SSLPD for their handling of the case. Defense attorneys Susanne Gustin and Roger Kraft placed blame on the police and did not criticize the DA's office when asked about the DA's office's handling of the case.
The press release also states the media accounts of the investigation have been inaccurate, but then says they will issue no further comment on the case.
While the police are defending their actions on the day of the incident, defense attorney Susanne Gustin says the department's mishandling of the case extended well beyond July 4, 2008. Many of Bell and Fair's former roommates were also at Monday's press conference and talked about their experience with SSLPD. Gustin summed up some of their claims in an e-mail to City Weekly:
...[W]hile Dan Fair was being wheeled out on a stretcher, the neighbors were screaming, "you fucking fagots, we hope your friend dies, if he doesn't, we'll finish him off when he comes back." Many officers heard this and did nothing even though they said, "they are threatening us."Bell and Fair have retained civil attorneys and confirmed they will sue their alleged attackers. They have not made a final decision about whether to sue SSLPD.When [roommate] Chris Swan returned to the house on July 4, he was threatened--SSLPD said just go in your house and ignore them. Chris said, "all the doors and windows are broken or kicked in, it isn't safe in my house."
In the next week, the neighbors drove by and pointed their hands out the window like a gun and said "you're dead." 911 was called several times. SSLPD laughed it off and said "don't call again."