DES MOINES, IA — A settlement has been reached for a groom who was beaten unconscious at his own wedding reception, although the city still refuses to admit their officer did anything wrong.
The case dates back to 2011, when John Twombly and his bride Khamla made their vows. They held a reception with roughly 275-300 guests, and hired an off-duty Des Moines police officer, Andrew Phipps, to provide security.
During a night of dancing with his guests, Twombly became upset when once one of his groomsmen became “very flirty” with his wife. The groomsman — Mr. Cullen — grabbed the bride from behind and made gestures that he was going to grab her breasts. This provoked a response from the groom. Twombly pushed Cullen, causing him to lose his balance and knock over a ceramic column, falling into the lap of Officer Phipps. Phipps called for backup.
According to the lawsuit, Twombly had regained his composure and was talking to his guests when as many as 20 officers swarmed into the reception hall moments later. The officers “overwhelmed” Twombly and slammed him into a wall, then tackled to the ground. The version of events was corroborated by several other guests who were addressed by name in the complaint.
“The police officer completely lost it. I didn’t touch the officer at all except on his bicep, and he went berserk on me. He pinned my head down with his knee.”
“They just came running through the entrance of the room, hit me in the back of the head, and I went down to the ground,” said Twombly to WHOtv.
One particularly brutal cop, Officer Cody Grimes, was seen by witnesses punching the groom in the eye. While Twombly had already been handcuffed, Grimes delivered repeated blows to his face. A 63-year-old guest named John Ellsworth Frederick Schildberg III felt that Twombly’s life was in danger and intervened after witnessing the beating. Schildberg “reached out and placed his hand over Defendant Grimes’ bicep to prevent another punch.” The document states that Mr. Schildberg “saw a wholesale loss of composure and control” on the part of the officer, and believed that if he continued, he would have killed the Twombly.
For stepping in and possibly saving the groom’s life, Mr. Schildberg was “shoved” into a hallway and “repeatedly kicked” by Officer Grimes while being threatened with jail time for interference with official acts.
“The police officer completely lost it,” Schildberg told Fox News. “I didn’t touch the officer at all except on his bicep, and he went berserk on me. … He pinned my head down with his knee.”
Schildberg was indeed charged with interference with official acts, but the charge was later dismissed.
Twombly, who had lost consciousness, was hospitalized and his injuries were assessed. A CAT scan revealed multiple fractures to his right orbital bone. He was charged with criminal mischief, two counts of assault on an officer, and disorderly conduct.
The Des Moines Police Department stood by their officers and cleared them of all wrongdoing. After about 2 weeks of paid administrative leave time, the officers — even Grimes — were patrolling the street once again.
A lawsuit was filed against Grimes and Phipps, citing a number of violations of rights and other damages. Nearly 3 years after the incident, Jake Twombly was awarded $75,000 from the city. Yet officials insisted the money was not an admission of guilt. In fact, the department to this date stands by Grimes’ actions in the 2011 incident, and refuses to release the internal police review.
“Yeah, I think he’s real dangerous,” Twombly remarked about Officer Grimes. “I think he should be reviewed and fired.”
The restraint that police departments show before firing an officer like Cody Grimes has time and again proven to enable serial abusers and bad cops to remain in power. The night he used a groom’s face as a punching bag was not the first time he had displayed his poor judgement as a police officer.
In October 2010, responding to a call near the KCCI news studios in downtown Des Moines, Officer Grimes saw a dark figure with something in his hand, so he opened fire. It turned out to be a KCCI photographer who had been outside with cell phone in his hands. The shot missed. Grimes was, of course, cleared and kept on the force.
In December 2013, Officer Grimes again made headlines in a case of domestic battery when he allegedly choked his girlfriend and threw her down the stairs in his home. Grimes was finally charged in the case, but remains on administrative leave with pay unless he actually gets a conviction.
Had Grimes been fired when he tried to shoot a photojournalist in 2010, perhaps the suffering of his future victims could have been avoided.