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Video surfaces of arrest that led to excessive force complaint against Dickinson police

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Dickinson city court held its first ever socially distant court jury trial in midst of COVID pandemic. (Courtesy of Dickinson City Hall)
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DICKINSON, N.D. — Video has surfaced from the January arrest of an African-American Dickinson State University student who said the Dickinson Police Department used excessive force.

Chelsey Borden, 24, was arrested by Officer Chad Hopponen after police say the officer responded to a physical altercation inside a Holiday convenience store.

According to police, Borden was arrested shortly after 1:30 a.m. Jan. 18 inside the store for what police say was disorderly and tumultuous conduct. Police say Borden resisted the officer’s attempts to gain compliance and take her into custody.

The newly surfaced video contains no audio and replays what appears to be an abridged portion of the incident twice in quick succession. The video begins abruptly as Borden is approached by Hopponen in an aisle of the gas station.

From there she is seen being led backward against the counter before being taken to the ground. The video then rewinds and shows this process again.

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Without audio it cannot be verified what lawful commands the officer was issuing to Borden or whether or not she was given any instruction prior to being taken to the ground. What can be seen in the video is that Borden has her hands up with palms toward the officer and is engaged in verbal communication with the officer when she is suddenly and aggressively taken to the ground in a control and restraint maneuver known as an arm drag.

Borden alleges that injuries suffered in this incident are those pictured, though the matter remains unconfirmed.

Following the surfacing of the video, attempts were made by Forum News Service again to speak with police concerning the video and to get statements on the status of the investigation into the officer in question.

In a response to the request, Christina M. Wenko, Dickinson City Attorney, issued a statement.

"Due to ND Open Records laws and deference to criminal defendants, the Dickinson Police Department and the City Prosecutor’s Office do not release police reports and other evidence during active investigations especially with criminal trials pending. Therefore, I will not offer any comments regarding the factual allegations in these matters nor will I address any other comments made by Ms. Borden," Wenko said in the statement. "The City and the Dickinson Police Department are not interested in trying these cases in the newspaper or on social media. If there are no plea agreements reached and these matters proceed to trial, these cases will be tried in the proper forum, that being a court of law, and a jury of Stark County residents will decide these cases on their merits after all of the evidence has been presented — the proper way."

Following the initial arrest in January, Capt. Joe Cianni of the Dickinson Police Department said that the altercation and subsequent arrest were captured on audio and video footage. However, due to the internal investigation, police said that no further information would be released regarding the criminal arrest or the formal complaint — including the audio and/or video footage.

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The status of the complaint filed against Hopponen by Borden remains unknown.

Following initial reporting on the incident and Borden's allegations, Dickinson Police Chief Dustin Dassinger issued a statement via Facebook Jan. 28 saying that evidence “unequivocally discredits and contradicts” claims that an officer used excessive force in making the arrest.

Speaking with Forum News Service Sunday, Aug. 23, Borden said the matter would proceed to court because she would not allow the City Prosecutor’s Office to “bully her into silence.”

“I’m not the first Black Dickinson State University student to be mistreated by an officer in this town," Borden said. "There have been many Black, mostly male athletes, that have been slammed against cars during parties. They have all gotten their charges dropped because they didn’t say anything. I’m just not the type to allow this kind of thing to happen to me, and I won’t allow it to happen anymore.”

The police department and City Prosecutor’s Office both maintain that the entirety of the available public information will be released, including audio and video, after the conclusion of investigative and judicial proceedings — including the full incident report filed by the officer the night of the arrest.

According to Wenko, the judicial proceedings in the matter will be held at city court in late September or early October.

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Dickinson resident Chelsey Borden, 24, was arrested by Officer Chad Hopponen after what police say was a physical altercation inside the Holiday convenience store at 231 W. Museum Dr. Borden says she is a victim of excessive police force.

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Dickinson resident Chelsey Borden, 24, was arrested by Officer Chad Hopponen after what police say was a physical altercation inside the Holiday convenience store at 231 W. Museum Dr. Borden says she is a victim of excessive police force.

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