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Man sues after reportedly being beaten by library security guards

(The doors of the Salt Lake City Library, downtown. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – A lawsuit potentially worth $35 million dollars is filed against Salt Lake City, a well-known security company, and two security guards after a Black man was reportedly beaten outside of the downtown library last year. 

However, city officials say they shouldn’t be named in the lawsuit, at all.

Attorneys for the plaintiff, Anthony Nelson from Salt Lake City, say the attack happened shortly after a fight between two women near the library in April of 2019.  Nelson happened to be nearby and reportedly witnessed it.  Attorney Kathleen McConkie says the woman who started that fight was Black and she claims when the CBI Security guards saw Nelson, they assumed he knew the instigator because he’s also Black.

“There was a presumption of guilt because of his race,” she says.

McConkie says Nelson denied having anything to do with the fight and was even telling the guards the direction the woman went.  The guards, according to McConkie, wouldn’t listen.

“The guards, at that point, started to physically abuse Anthony.  They started beating him with a closed fist in his face.  One guard took a baton and struck him forcefully across the back of the head,” says McConkie.

That blow reportedly knocked Nelson to the ground.  That’s when McConkie claims a guard restrained Nelson with a move that state lawmakers recently banned.

She says, “While he was down, another guard took his knee and put it on his back and into his neck and into his skull.”

McConkie says the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis made her client realize just how dangerous the “knee-neck” move can be.  Nelson refused help from police when they arrived and reportedly walked himself to a nearby medical clinic.  He allegedly sustained serious damage to one of his eyes and closed head injuries.

“He had a concussion when he was hit with the baton.  He’s had some neurological issues which have continued on, such as headaches and sometimes balance [problems] and those kinds of things,” she says.

McConkie says Nelson went to the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office after it happened, hoping to get an apology, which never came.  However, city officials say they don’t oversee the library, and shouldn’t be named in the lawsuit.

A statement from the mayor’s office reads…

“The Salt Lake Library is a separate entity from the City and the employees involved in this matter are not city employees. We are supportive of the library’s process and internal investigation, but cannot comment on it as it is not City business. Our attorneys are analyzing next steps to remove the City from the case.”

Officials from CBI Security say they haven’t had enough time to go over the legal complaint or finish their own investigation of what happened, so it’s too early from them to make a statement.  The guards in question no longer work for the company.



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