No discipline for Moorhead police officer who struck handcuffed woman in the face
MOORHEAD — A Moorhead police officer will not face disciplinary action after being accused of injuring a handcuffed woman in a hospital last year.
Officer Matthew Lambert returned to active duty the first week of July, police spokesman Lt. Deric Swenson confirmed Tuesday, July 23.
The Moorhead Police Department completed its internal investigation into a Sept. 9 altercation that led to criminal charges against Lambert in Cass County, but the agency concluded the officer should not be disciplined, Swenson said.
Lambert was charged with one felony count of aggravated assault after striking Jennifer Joan Thomas with his elbow while she was on a hospital bed at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo. The handcuffed woman suffered a fractured nasal bone and a bruise to her right eye.
Prosecutors dropped the charge last month after their own expert determined Lambert’s actions against Thomas were "objectively reasonable." The officer was on administrative leave until the Moorhead police investigation cleared him for field work.
Surveillance video with no audio shows officers bringing Thomas into a hospital room. She appeared confrontational, and at one point stood up, prompting Lambert to force her on the bed. Thomas spit at Lambert, and he struck her in the face. He and another officer held her down on the bed for several minutes.
Before being brought to the hospital, Thomas was arrested at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Moorhead after police responded to the restaurant for reports of a woman with what appeared to be a handgun and making suicidal comments. She was acquitted in June on charges related to the incident by reason of mental illness.
Since there was no disciplinary action against Lambert, any documents related to the investigation are exempt from open record laws, Swenson said. Chief Shannon Monroe was unavailable for comment.
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