Woman accuses Dickinson officer of using excessive force; department to investigate
The Dickinson Police Department is investigating one of its officers after a woman said the officer used excessive force while arresting her Jan. 18.
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 was cut on the cheek and suffered bruising as a result of handcuffs being used improperly during the arrest. Borden’s social media posts about the arrest have garnered nearly 400 comments and close to 100 shares.
According to police, Borden was arrested shortly after 1:30 a.m. inside the store for what police say was disorderly and tumultuous behavior. Police say Borden resisted the officer’s attempts to gain compliance and take her into custody.
Capt. Joe Cianni, Dickinson Police Department, said that the altercation and subsequent arrest were captured on audio and video footage.
“Borden was taken into custody and lodged at the Southwest Multi-County Correction Center (SWMCCC) on a $600 bond and bonded out a few hours later,” Cianni said. “Following her release, Borden filed a formal complaint against the arresting officer with the on-duty Dickinson Police Department shift commander alleging excessive use of force.”
The formal complaint against Hopponen will be investigated thoroughly, the department said. Because of the internal investigation, no further information will be released regarding the criminal arrest or the formal complaint by DPD — including the audio and video footage.
Police officials confirmed that all information will be released (upon request) after the criminal case and internal investigation are complete.
Both of Borden’s charges are misdemeanors and will be prosecuted in Dickinson Municipal Court. Hearings have not yet been set.
According to Borden, the events outlined in the incident report by police did not transpire the way they claim.
Borden, a former athlete at Dickinson State University, was adamant that the incident wasn’t a matter of race, nor was her complaint an attack on the Dickinson Police Department as an entity — rather, she expressed her view that her complaint was a specific charge against the aggressive nature of a single officer.
“I don’t have any issues with the Dickinson Police Department, I feel that this particular officer used excessive force and didn’t use the training he was taught about de-escalation,” Borden said. “As a DSU basketball player and volunteer in the community, I’ve had multiple great interactions with police officers in the past without issue. What I do have is an issue with how this officer handled the situation.”
Borden says she and another person in the store got into an verbal altercation that became physical — forcing her to defend herself from an attack.
“On Jan. 18, I left Army’s (sports bar) and went to Holiday gas station to meet up with a friend. I was there for a little while waiting on my friend and was talking with the clerk and having a good time. I was being cordial and wasn’t causing any disturbance and had permission to wait inside for my friend,” she said. “When my friend arrived, we started talking when a girl walked in who was well known to both me and my friend, and whom I have had problems with. I approached her to confront her about previous issues and we got into a heated argument.”
Borden then claims the other woman attacked her.
“I approached her to discuss a previous issue we’ve had and the girl pushed me and took a swing at me. I was trying to defend myself when Officer Hopponen came into the store,” she said. “Hopponen started yelling and screaming so everyone stopped. Officer Hopponen then approached me and got in my face and started yelling at me and pointing his finger in my face. He kept saying, ‘put your f****** hands behind your back, and get on the f****** floor.’”
Borden said Hopponen became unjustly physical.
“I was scared because he had a finger in my face and his other hand on his sidearm. So I placed my hands up, palms facing him and said, ‘Sir, please calm down and let me explain what happened.’ Without notice or warning he swiped at my face and aggressively forced me to the ground causing my injuries,” she said. “I was thrown into the back of Officer Hopponen’s police cruiser, and he never asked me what happened or listened to my pleas for him to loosen the cuffs, which left bruises on my wrists to this day.”
Borden claims that Hopponen told her at the Southwest Multi-County Correction Center that he had multiple witnesses that saw her start a fight and that she was being charged with tumultuous conduct and resisting arrest — claims Borden refutes.
“The only people in that store at the time was a clerk at the counter, my friend and the person I had a confrontation with. I’m not sure what witnesses he is referring to because those were the only people there,” she said. “I was assaulted by a Dickinson police officer (and) forced to the ground, which resulted in injuries.”
Borden continued, “I will be pressing charges, and have filed a complaint against the officer. The cameras will prove my case.”
The store clerk declined to comment on the advice of police.
Borden’s friend, Funmi Ujima, echoed Borden’s description of the officer’s conduct, calling it “excessive.”
“I’m not sure if the officer in question was upset or what, because he was responding to a hit-and-run call outside, but he came in irate,” Ujima said. “He didn’t come in and try and de-escalate the situation. He approached Chelsey and next thing I know he’s throwing her to the ground.”
Ujima said Borden didn’t resist or make any attempts to be combative with the officer.
“She had her hands up and was trying to explain the situation to him,” Ujima said.
The other person involved in the altercation was not arrested.
An open records request submitted by The Press prior to Borden’s arrest yielded disciplinary records over the previous five years of Dickinson police officers, including Hopponen. According to the documents, the officer has no substantiated claims against him on record. Hopponen has been the subject of at least three investigations stemming from allegations made by members of the public, though none involved the use of excessive force.
In June 2018, the Dickinson Police Department received a letter from the Office of the State’s Attorney of possible violations of law over an investigative practice used by Hopponen. An internal investigation by the Dickinson Police Department found the matter was “not sustained.” The matter was referred to the North Dakota Post Board, which also exonerated Hopponen.
In July 2018, Hopponen attended an after-bar party at a private residence where he allegedly falsely identified himself as being in a position of authority at the department. People at the party further claimed that Hopponen produced a small bag of what appeared to be marijuana and offered to share it with guests. According to the complaint, the marijuana was allegedly taken by Hopponen from the evidence locker at the Dickinson Police Department. An internal investigation cleared Hopponen of any wrongdoing.
In May 2019, Hopponen had a verbal complaint issued against him for harassment by a Dickinson woman who said the officer continued to stop her unjustly and threatened her. The complaint was “not sustained” by internal investigations, but verbal counseling and remedial training was ordered by Chief of Police Dustin Dassinger.
The Press will seek release of the audio and video footage surrounding Borden’s arrest after the conclusion of the criminal case and completion of the internal investigation, and will produce a follow-up piece to this story at a later date.