Bodycam footage shows arrest of South Salt Lake Council member

First-term officeholder Paul Sanchez had alleged officers used “excessive force.” Newly obtained videos seem to indicate otherwise.

South Salt Lake City Council member Paul Sanchez has alleged that police used “excessive force” to arrest him when he attempted to attend a City Council meeting earlier this month after he was censured and banned from attending meetings in person.

Body camera footage obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune through a public records request doesn’t appear to support his assertion.

On March 13, police arrested Sanchez on suspicion of trespassing as he attempted to enter City Hall for a trio of city meetings. A week earlier, the council had censured him over his social media posts aimed at his elected colleagues and required that he attend meetings virtually for at least 90 days.

Four officers confronted the first-term council member at the door and notified him that he would be trespassing if he tried to enter the building. After some back-and-forth with Deputy Chief Ryan Cram, the bodycam footage shows, Sanchez told the officers that he would “come for [their] badge” if they arrested him.

Cram told Sanchez he could stand outside, but Sanchez refused to let Cram close the door and demanded officers arrest him.

The footage shows officers then turned Sanchez around and handcuffed him. The council member did not fight the officers and at no point did they force him to the ground.

Sanchez is heard complaining several times that the handcuffs were too tight. Police adjusted the handcuffs and one officer checked to the tightness by sliding his fingers in between Sanchez’s wrist and the metal.

In a text to The Tribune after the arrest, Sanchez said Cram met him at the door and “proceeded to violently arrest me.” And in a statement emailed to multiple news outlets and state officials, he accused officers of using “excessive force.”

“Every day, we witness an erosion of our civil liberties. The arrest I endured was not merely an assault on my First Amendment rights and personal freedoms; it was an affront to the very constituents I serve,” said Sanchez this week. “It is imperative to remember that dissent is not just a right but a cornerstone of our constitutional framework.”

Sanchez’s arraignment for the trespassing charge is scheduled for April 15.

At a council meeting Wednesday, members, residents and Mayor Cherie Wood criticized Sanchez and expressed gratitude to one another and city employees for doing their jobs during a chaotic couple of months for the suburb.

Council members Corey Thomas and Clarissa Williams said that they have considered resigning since Sanchez joined the body in January.

“In the seven years I have been on council, this is definitely the hardest point I have had to experience,” Thomas said. “But I am not going to let one individual make me quit. I’m not here to represent him; I’m here to represent the community.”

During the public comment period, four residents called for Sanchez to resign, including Catherine Taylor who has started a petition requesting his resignation.

“His behavior in office is not only unfitting of his position but also harmful to the community he was elected to serve,” said Taylor, reading from her petition. “Councilman Sanchez’s pattern of behavior undermines the integrity of our local government.”

Sanchez did not attend the meeting. In a text, he said he “took [Wednesday] off.”