- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

OWASSO, Okla. (AP) - A former Owasso police officer fired for using unnecessary force in arresting a suspected drunken man would like to return to law enforcement, his lawyer said, after a court ruled that he should not have been dismissed.

Former policeman Mike Denton “absolutely” would like to return to the police force, his attorney, James Patrick Hunt, told the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1ky4tEJ ).

“What he is, is a police officer,” Hunt said. “That’s central to his identity. My suspicion is that he doesn’t really want to be anything else.”

Denton appealed after the Owasso Police Department fired him for his actions during an arrest of a suspect on a public intoxication complaint. An arbitrator then ruled that Denton should be reinstated, but a Tulsa County judge overturned that decision.

The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals ruled Tuesday that the district judge shouldn’t have overturned the arbitrator’s ruling reinstating Denton.

“The trial court erred in vacating the arbitrator’s decision as contrary to public policy,” Presiding Judge Larry Joplin wrote.

Owasso City Manager Warren Lehr said the city is disappointed by the court’s ruling and is now deciding whether to appeal.

Denton was fired after officials determined he stepped on the man’s head, stretched the handcuffed man’s arms and elbowed him three times in the face after arresting him in June 2011 for public intoxication. The arbitrator reduced the firing to a written reprimand after finding his actions were “unreasonable and unnecessary,” but not excessive.

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Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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