Greg Hallgrimson pleaded guilty on Wednesday for assaulting a handcuffed man back in 2018. Hallgrimson was the police chief of Greenwood when he used excessive force against Jonathan Stephen Zicarelli, who tried to drown his infant daughter in an icy pond, according to reports.
The 51-year-old former police chief was indicted by a federal grand jury, having violated the civil rights of a man, court documents revealed. Greg Hallgrimson reportedly threw Jonathan Zicarelli to the floor and struck him in the face while he was handcuffed in the police station. Hallgrimson entered the guilty plea on Wednesday in the Western District of Missouri.
Hallgrimson’s lawyer, Robin Fowler, explained that the guilty plea is the next step in resolving the case. He said his client believes it is what’s necessary to “move forward with his life.”
“He believes that the plea terms are fair, and hopes they will be given consideration by the Court,” Fowler told the Kansas City Star. It isn’t clear what the contents of the plea terms are or whether Hallgrimson will face jail time for his actions.
On November 13, 2019, the former police chief was indicted on federal charges for the alleged assault. Prosecutors accused Greg Hallgrimson of assaulting Jonathan Zicarelli while he was restrained, claiming he violated Zicarelli’s civil rights. At the time, Hallgrimson was looking to fight the charge.
The incident in question occurred in December 2018. Jonathan Stephen Zicarelli, 29, walked into the Greenwood police station and told police he tried to drown his 6-month-old daughter in a nearby pond. Hallgrimson and another officer quickly arrived at the pond and found the infant girl floating, lying face-up in the icy water. The infant was unconscious and her lungs had filled with water, according to reports.
Greg Hallgrimson removed the young girl’s wet clothes and covered her in his own shirt to warm her body. He also performed CPR until help arrived. Paramedics soon took over the rescue procedures and rushed the girl to a nearby hospital. Zicarelli’s infant daughter was treated for severe hypothermia but she survived, police said.
Zicarelli admitted to police that he was suffering from mental health issues derived from a stressful job and home life. He thought drowning his daughter would put less stress on him and his wife. The Kansas City Star reported that Zicarelli told police that he was planning to kill his daughter for more than 24 hours. He said that he had “bad thoughts” and was stressed by the holidays.
Police arrested Jonathan Stephen Zicarelli at the Greenwood police station. While Zicarelli was restrained, Greg Hallgrimson returned. Body camera footage revealed that Hallgrimson grabbed Zicarelli by the throat and threw him to the ground. Zicarelli was still handcuffed and posed no threat to the former chief of police. During the encounter, Hallgrimson punched the man in the face and sat on his chest, screaming at Zicarelli that “you deserve to die.” Officers finally pulled the chief away.
Two months later, when Zicarelli was being held at Jackson County jail, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peter Baker asked Missouri Highway Patrol to conduct an investigation. FBI investigators visited Zicarelli while he was in jail and noticed lacerations on his face and a severe injury to his jaw. At that point, the body camera footage was revealed to investigators, though it hasn’t been made public.
U.S. Attorney Timothy Garrison explained that “any officer who abuses their authority will be held accountable for violating the Constitution they are sworn to uphold.” Garrison continued, saying “nobody is above the law.”
Hallgrimson was placed on administrative leave following the accusations. He later resigned in June 2019. Jonathan Stephen Zicarelli is still being held in Jackson County jail and faces felony charges of domestic assault and child abuse.
The news of Hallgrimson’s guilty plea has elicited mixed responses from Twitter. Many claim the former chief of police rescued the young daughter and deserves “a medal, not a charge.” Others say that his excessive force was not necessary since it was after Zicarelli was already sitting in the police station, handcuffed.
Do you think Greg Hallgrimson was wrong for beating the father? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!