Deputy didn't lose job after DUI and using unnecessary force on jail inmate

Saturday , May 19, 2018 - 5:00 AM1 comment

FARMINGTON — A Davis County sheriff’s deputy kept his job for more than two years after being arrested for drunken driving and undergoing discipline for using unnecessary force against a jail inmate, according to public records.

Apichat Joe Chintawan, 49, of Farr West, left county employment Nov. 21, 2017, only after being implicated in a sweeping sexual harassment investigation in the sheriff’s office by the county’s human resources department.

That investigation resulted in demotions and other punishments involving several deputies and followed several years of controversy over deaths in the Davis jail and questionable spending by the sheriff’s office.

RELATED: 2 more sheriff's deputy harassment cases made public in Davis County

A North Ogden police officer pulled Chintawan over at 4 a.m. July 16, 2015, because his pickup truck had no license plate lights, the police incident report said.

The officer smelled alcohol and asked Chintawan to perform field sobriety tests. He failed the tests, was arrested and later registered a blood-alcohol content of .098, over the legal limit.

Chintawan told the officer he drank about 10 beers before 11 p.m. Because Chintawan was cooperative, the officer issued him a promise to appear in court and released him to his wife.

RELATED: Utah police have discretion on whether to jail or cite and release DUI arrestees

Chintawan was not booked into jail. It is unknown whether he reported his arrest to his superiors or the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Division, POST, as required by county and state policy.

The veteran Davis jail deputy, who made about $56,000 per year, represented himself in North Ogden Justice Court and reached a plea bargain with Weber County Attorney Chris Allred.

The DUI charge against Chintawan was reduced to a class B misdemeanor charge of reckless driving. Judge Patrick Lambert sentenced Chintawan to a suspended six-month jail term and fined him $1,460.

On Oct. 29, 2015, Davis County Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin Fielding disciplined Chintawan for unnecessary use of force against a jail inmate.

“This is a very serious violation of Sheriff’s Office and County policy, which when brought to the attention of the public would be detrimental to the mission and reputation of the Sheriff’s Office,” Fielding wrote in the notice of discipline.

Details of the incident were not available. Detective Ty Berger, sheriff’s office spokesman, was away on training Friday and said he would research the incident and respond next week.

Fielding placed Chintawan on unpaid leave and six months’ probation.

County Human Resources Director Debra Alexander said one of a series of sexual harassment complaints her office recently investigated was against Chintawan, but no action was taken because he retired Nov. 21, 2017.

Chintawan was hired by the sheriff’s office in January 1996, so he had 20 years of service upon retirement, enough to obtain full benefits from the state public safety employees retirement program.

Investigations by Alexander’s office have resulted in findings of sexual harassment policy violations by at least four sheriff’s deputies, plus violations by two senior deputies who failed to take appropriate action against the violators.

Another deputy, who supervised three of the sexual harassment perpetrators, retired after being disciplined for bullying subordinates and jail clerks.

County records show Chintawan also was suspended without pay for five days in February 2000 for dereliction of duty. The discipline memo told Chintawan “any future violations of office policy” would result in his termination.

Chintawan is under investigation by POST, the state agency said in response to a records request. POST certifies law enforcement officers in Utah and suspends or revokes the licenses of officers found in violation of policies or laws.

Efforts to contact Chintawan were not immediately successful.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SEmarkshenefelt.

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