Former police chief pleads guilty to assaulting dad who tried to drown baby in pond

GREENWOOD, Mo. — A former Missouri police chief has pleaded guilty to attacking a father who tried in 2018 to drown his 6-month-old daughter.

Greg Hallgrimson, 51, of Kansas City, was the chief of the Greenwood Police Department on Dec. 17, 2018, when he threw a handcuffed and restrained Jonathon Zicarelli to the ground and punched him in the face.

Hallgrimson, who later resigned his post, was indicted in November 2019 on a federal charge of depriving Zicarelli of his rights. Zicarelli, 31, is awaiting trial on felony charges of child abuse and domestic assault, according to the Kansas City Star.

If the former chief’s plea is accepted by the court, he will be sentenced to probation for the attack on Zicarelli, the court documents show. The maximum sentence for deprivation of civil rights is 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

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The former lawman pleaded guilty to end the case and “move forward with his life,” his attorney told the Star.

“He believes that the plea terms are fair and hopes they will be given consideration by the court,” defense attorney Robin Fowler said in a statement.

A probable cause affidavit in Zicarelli’s case states that he walked into the Greenwood Police Department shortly after 10 a.m. that December day and told police officers he’d just drowned his daughter.

Hallgrimson and Cpl. Thomas Calhoun immediately raced to the pond, which was about a mile from the police station, while Lt. Aaron Fordham handcuffed Zicarelli and sat him in a chair. At the pond, Calhoun and the chief found Zicarelli’s infant daughter floating face-up in the water.

Calhoun jumped into the icy water, where the child had been submerged for over 10 minutes, the court papers allege. She appeared lethargic and lifeless, with her eyes wide open, authorities said.

“The child had mud in her eyes, grass and water in her mouth and was barely moving,” Calhoun wrote in the affidavit.

The officers removed the girl’s wet clothes and Hallgrimson wrapped her in his uniform shirt to warm her up, according to KMBC in Kansas City.

Hallgrimson and Calhoun administered first aid until paramedics arrived and took over, rushing the baby to a hospital. Upon her arrival in the emergency room, her body temperature was 87.9 — more than 10 degrees below normal, the news station said.

She was treated for severe hypothermia.

As paramedics arrived, Hallgrimson left the scene and went back to the department.

“Defendant Hallgrimson entered the door of the Greenwood Police Department and immediately walked, without saying anything, to the location where (Zicarelli) was handcuffed behind his back and sitting in a chair,” Hallgrimson’s plea agreement states.

Read Greg Hallgrimson’s plea agreement below.

Hallgrimson yanked Zicarelli from the chair onto the floor, causing his eyeglasses to fly off his face. The chief then got on top of the handcuffed man and began pummeling him and screaming at him, the documents state.

“You deserve to die,” Hallgrimson said, according to the Star.

The federal court documents state that Hallgrimson walked away after Fordham pulled him off Zicarelli. The chief could be heard on body-worn camera footage telling one of his officers that he had “crossed the line” and that he quit.

Hallgrimson was put on administrative leave when the assault allegations surfaced, the Star reported. He resigned in May 2019.

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Zicarelli told Fordham and a detective from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office that he spent more than 24 hours planning his daughter’s death because he’d been having “bad thoughts.” According to the affidavit in the case, he said the upcoming Christmas holiday, as well as the responsibility of providing for his family, had him stressed out.

“Jonathon stated he took the actions because he was trying to make it easier on his wife,” Calhoun wrote. “Jonathon confessed he drove to the pond, parked his car (and) walked down to the pond three separate times, trying to determine if he could kill the child before placing the baby in the water and watching the child sink prior to leaving.”

He then drove to the police station to confess to what he’d done, Zicarelli said.

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