Video shows Moorhead officer strike handcuffed woman in Fargo hospital room

Still from Video: Security video shows Moorhead officer striking handcuffed woman
This image from surveillance footage shows Moorhead Police Officer Matthew Lambert using force on Jennifer Thomas after she spit at him in a Fargo hospital room. Special to The Forum

FARGO — The Forum has obtained security footage that shows a Moorhead police officer striking a handcuffed woman with his elbow in a hospital room.

The incident prompted prosecutors to charge the officer, Matthew Lambert, with a felony count of aggravated assault in Cass County District Court.

However, the case was dismissed Monday, June 3 , after an expert witness for the prosecution found that the officer’s actions were “objectively reasonable.”

With the dismissal of Lambert’s case, the hospital security footage of the incident became a public record, which The Forum requested and received from the prosecutor's office on Thursday, June 6.


The video, which does not have audio, shows Lambert and another officer escort 47-year-old Jennifer Joan Thomas into a hospital room at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo to be medically cleared on Sept. 9.

Thomas appears to berate the officers and appears confrontational. One of the officers exits the room, leaving Lambert and a nurse in the room with Thomas.

Thomas then stands up from the hospital bed, prompting Lambert to come to Thomas' side and put her back onto the bed.

Thomas can be seen spitting in the face of Lambert, who subsequently strikes her in the face with his elbow and restrains her.

Lambert and the second Moorhead officer hold Thomas down for about five minutes, as hospital security officers enter the room, the video shows.

Moorhead Police Officer Matthew Lambert appears at a hearing March 6 in Cass County District Court in Fargo. Forum file photo


Thomas suffered a fractured nasal bone and a bruise to her right eye, court documents said. Earlier that day, she 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, according to court documents.

Thomas was charged in connection with the incident and has a trial set for Friday, June 7. Her attorney, Jesse Mickels, declined to comment on Thursday.

Peter Wold, who was Lambert's attorney, said the case was "about an officer who did his job dealing with a violent woman."

Wold said Thomas was trying to leave the hospital room and she spit in the face of an officer who took her down "with the least amount of force," adding that the prosecution's expert witness came to the same conclusion.

Jennifer Joan Thomas SIZED FOR CUE.jpg
Jennifer Joan Thomas

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