Utah officer charged with assault; tape reveals rage

By Michael N. Westley,
The Salt Lake Tribune

A man identifying himself as a police officer appears to have exploded in a rage of vulgarity and other verbal abuse during an alleged assault on a 21-year-old man at a West Valley City gym, according to a 911 tape.

The tape, which lasts more than five minutes, reveals the man swore at the victim repeatedly and threatened to take him to jail.

The tape is evidence in a criminal case against Salt Lake City police Officer Marcus Barrett, who was charged last week with assault, unlawful detention and disorderly conduct - all misdemeanors - in connection with the Aug. 29 confrontation. Barrett faces a hearing Nov. 21 in West Valley City Justice Court.

The 24-year-old officer, who joined the Salt Lake City Police Department in July 2005, was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 30 and is the subject of an internal investigation.

The incident started when a game of pickup basketball at the Gold's Gym in West Valley City got heated. The hostility escalated until Barrett, who was off-duty at the time, allegedly took a swing at the 21-year-old man, a Salt Lake City resident who fled the war in Kosovo.

The alleged victim, who asked that only his first name of Agim be used, and Barrett wrestled each other to the floor.

Agim broke free and tried to leave, but Barrett allegedly used his city-owned police car to block Agim's exit in the parking lot, Agim said.

When it became clear to Agim that Barrett and his two friends were not going to leave him alone, he dialed 911 and left the line open.

"He's got a cop car and he tried to jump me at the Golds Gym," Agim tells the dispatcher. He reports their location and then a man near him, presumably Barrett, says, "You're f***ing with the wrong people."

The sound of a scuffle can then be heard.

"Don't touch me. Don't f***ing touch me!" Agim says.

The man replies, "You want to start something, motherf***er? What you pulled in there is called an assault . . .. You want to start sh** right now?"

Moments later, the man says, "You see that f***ing car right there? What does that make me?"

"A cop," Agim replies.

"A police officer," says the man, who then yells, "Get out of the car right now. If you don't get out of the car I will place you under arrest for resisting arrest. Get out of the car right now!"

Agim answers, "Hold on until the cops come. I don't trust you."

The conversation continues much in the same way for several more minutes.

While the other man on the tape appears to be enraged during the incident, Agim appears calm, saying he does not want to go to jail but is not getting out of the car until another police officer arrives. "I'm defenseless," Agim says on the tape.

At several points during the call, Agim told The Tribune, Barrett tried to pull him through the window of his car, bruising his arms.

An ethnic Albanian who escaped the violence in the Serbian province of Kosovo last decade, Agim chose Utah to live because he said it was a "nice, quiet place."

He said he has considered becoming a police officer.

"This is freedom land, man," Agim said. "This is what everybody wants."

Copyright 2006 The Salt Lake Tribune
All Rights Reserved

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