A federal judge in Kansas City sentenced a former Missouri police chief to five years of probation in the beating of a man who tried to drown his own infant daughter in an icy pond.
Senior U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs, sentenced 52-year-old Greg Hallgrimson, the former police chief of Greenwood, during a video conference hearing held Tuesday morning. Sachs waived imposing a fine.
A federal grand jury indicted Hallgrimson with violating the civil rights of a man identified in court documents as “J.Z.” by throwing him to the ground and striking him in the face while he was restrained in a chair. Hallgrimson pleaded guilty in August.
Hallgrimson was investigated for using excessive force after Jonathon Stephen Zicarelli walked into the Greenwood Police Department in December 2018 and told police he had killed his infant daughter.
Her body, he told police, could be found in a pond on the west side of the small town, roughly 20 miles southeast of Kansas City and home to roughly 6,000 residents.
After rushing to the icy retention pond, Hallgrimson and another officer found the child unconscious, floating face up. Her lungs were filled with water. They removed the child’s wet clothes and wrapped her in the chief’s shirt to warm her. Paramedics arrived and rushed the child to a hospital, where she was treated for severe hypothermia.
A former attorney for Zicarelli, Susan Dill, previously told The Star that Hallgrimson was captured on video at the police station grabbing Zicarelli by the throat, throwing him to the floor and punching him in the face.
Greenwood’s Board of Aldermen placed Hallgrimson on administrative leave shortly after the assault accusations came to light. He resigned in May 2019.
Zicarelli, 31, pleaded guilty in August to felony child abuse and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison.
Hallgrimson’s attorney, Robin Fowler, had asked for a lighter sentence of one year of probation for Hallgrimson, citing in part his career as a police officer and that the risk of recidivism and further criminal activity were essentially non-existent.
Probation restrictions also could affect his search for employment, Fowler said.
“It think that lengthy probation is not necessary,” Fowler said.
Hallgrimson, who now lives in Tulsa, has been on pretrial release and had only one issue when he failed to report a trip to Texas.
Sachs said, however, that the law violated in this case relates to Hallgrimson losing control and becoming violent as a result of anger.
“I’m not satisfied that I can just assume that that situation would not be recurring and it does seem to me that the full five year period of probation may be helpful for that as an incentive for that purpose,” Sachs said.
Sachs also said the lack of a fine was the most serious problem he faced in deciding whether to accept the plea agreement. He said he thought a fine of perhaps $10,000 or more would be appropriate in order to “not be too lenient.”
He said he was satisfied that such a fine wasn’t necessary considering the loss of income as a result of Hallgrimson’s resignation as police chief.