Decorated Sioux Falls police officer charged with simple assault

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A former decorated police officer is facing charges in connection with an incident that happened this summer in downtown Sioux Falls.

32-year-old Joseph Larson – who you can see highlighted in the picture below – is charged with simple assault after arresting a black man outside of Wiley’s Tavern on July 24th.

Former Police Officer Joseph Larson

According to court papers, Larson is accused of injuring the man and using tactics not used by the Sioux Falls police department.

Charges against the man were later dropped, so we are not using the alleged victim’s name in this story.

The incident took place at 1 a.m. outside of Wiley’s Tavern after a man was reportedly kicked out for spitting out a drink inside the bar.

Surveillance video shows officer Joseph Larson handcuffed the man and escorted him to the patrol car.

That’s when things began to escalate.

According to court papers, in-car-camera provided by the police department shows Larson pushing the man’s head against the cage, which is a partition that separates the two sides of the backseat.

Court documents say Larson is heard telling him to ‘sit down’ as he tried to buckle him in his seat belt.

The video also shows Larson punching the man in the groin.

He then punches him in the groin a second time while saying ‘sit down.’

Officer Larson was still pressing his head against the cage while still trying to get the seat belt latched.

At that point Larson told him he was being charged with resisting arrest, in which the man replied ‘I didn’t resist s*&t.’

Other officers, who responded to the scene, were trying to assist.

According to court papers, the man is heard calling officer Larson a mother f*&%^#r more than once.

The man also asked Larson why he was handling him the way he was, since he was already in the patrol car.

Court papers say, as the officers continued to struggle to get him in his seatbelt, they told him to sit down again, in which he replied ‘I can’t sit down’

In the video you also hear the man say ‘I can’t f*&^%ing breath man’ as Larson continued to force his face into the cage.

When interviewed, the first assisting police officer wrote ‘while trying to place him in the back of the patrol vehicle, “the man” stiffened up and would not sit down.’

Eventually the officers were able to buckle him into his seatbelt and hauled him to jail.

After his arrest, investigators spoke with a defensive tactics instructor for the police department.

That instructor viewed the video that captures Larson striking the man in the groin. That instructor said the strikes are not consistent with techniques Sioux Falls police officers are trained in.

The man was taken to a hospital after reporting pain in his neck, shoulder and ribs. He was treated and taken back to jail. Again, those charges were later dropped.

Officer Larson was awarded with the department’s ‘life saving award’ twice, once in 2015 and most recently in 2019.

KELOLAND News reached out to the police department for comment, but they declined.

“Upon learning of Officer Larson’s actions, he did not work another shift for the Sioux Falls Police Department and is no longer a member of our Police department. The City of Sioux Falls immediately referred this case to be reviewed for criminal charges by the State Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) as an independent agency. In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing criminal proceedings and the rights of all involved, no further details will be provided at this time.” – Mayor Paul TenHaken

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