Ex-Missouri police chief pleads guilty to beating man who allegedly tried to drown baby

·2 min read

Greg Hallgrimson, the former police chief of Greenwood, has pleaded guilty to assaulting a handcuffed man who was being held in a police station for allegedly trying to drown his own infant daughter in an icy pond.

Hallgrimson, 51, entered a guilty plea in the Western District of Missouri on Wednesday morning, according to court records. He was indicted by a federal grand jury 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.

Robin Fowler, the former chief’s defense attorney, told The Star his plea marks the next step in being able to resolve the case and “move forward with his life.”

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

An excessive force investigation of Hallgrimson was opened after the former top cop was accused of beating Jonathan Stephen Zicarelli, who had shown up at the Greenwood Police Department in December 2018 and told police he had killed his infant daughter. Hallgrimson and another officer quickly rushed to an icy retention pond and found an unconscious infant floating face up, her lungs filled with water.

Hallgrimson and the other responding officer removed the child’s wet clothes and wrapped her in the chief’s shirt to warm her body. Paramedics arrived and took over reviving the child and rushed her to a hospital.

The child was treated for severe hypothermia. Jackson County prosecutors filed an assault charge against Zicarelli later that day.

According to court records, Zicarelli told investigators he had been planning to kill his daughter for more than 24 hours after having “bad thoughts.” He said he wanted to make things easier for his wife. He said he was stressed by the holidays and by trying to provide for his family.

Hallgrimson was later accused of using excessive force against Zicarelli at the police station. A former attorney for Zicarelli, Susan Dill, previously told The Star that Hallgrimson was captured on video grabbing Zicarelli by the throat, throwing him to the floor and punching him in the face.

According to Dill, the police chief told Zicarelli: “You deserve to die.”

Hallgrimson was put on administrative leave by Greenwood’s Board of Aldermen shortly after the assault accusations came to light. He resigned in May 2019.

Zicarelli, meanwhile, remains in Jackson County jail on pending felony charges of domestic assault and child abuse.

The Star’s Luke Nozicka contributed to this report.