David James Bell, Acquitted of Kidnapping, Now Going After His Attackers


Last month, Salt Lake City’s David “DJ” Bell was acquitted on kidnapping charges, brought against him when his neighbors accused him of taking their two children in the middle of the night. Jurors were left puzzled: With such flimsy evidence, why were charges even brought? Well, allow Bell to explain.

At a press conference yesterday, Bell (pictured center, with attorneys Robert Kraft and Susanne Gustin) revealed what happened that night, according to the Salt Lake Tribune:

He’d joined in his neighbor’s late night party, chatting, singing and having a drink. He’d walked back home to refill his glass, only to find two of the neighbors’ young children in his yard, asking for Kool-Aid.

Bell said he gave them a soft drink, at which point the children’s mother came charging at him, slapping him and screaming. Then more neighbors poured over, Bell said, breaking in doors and windows, beating him, slashing him with

glass shards and slamming his head into his driveway. His partner, Daniel Fair, was also assaulted.

Police were called; the neighbors told them Bell had lured the children into his home, and that was it for the investigation, he said.

And, he and his attorneys said, South Salt Lake police spoke only briefly with people who were in Bell’s home at the time — taking names and listening for a few minutes. Nor, said Megan Dunyon — who was sleeping in Bell’s home when the violence began — did any investigator return her call asking for a chance to tell the other side of the story.

The District Attorney is now weighing whether to bring charges against Bell’s neighbors, who he alleges violently attacked him and his partner. We say: Bring it. And so does Bell, who’s likely bringing a civil suit against the neighbors.

Meanwhile, despite allegations from the defense that the police bungled the case:

South Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Snyder said Monday that he stands by the investigation.

Bell believes what happened to him was a hate crime. (Conversely, at his trial, a prosecutor said the defense had “played the Polynesian card” because of the neighbors’ ethnicity.)

Bell wants those who beat him charged, convicted, imprisoned and given counseling.

“As long as the people who attacked me are free,” he said, “I am not.”

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  • Jon B

    @Tallskin: I hate that you’re putting me in the position to defend Queerty’s positions as I disagree with the commentary here often, but you have it all sorts of wrong. The police weren’t anti-gay so much as anti-child molester. Sorry, but I draw the line for righteous indignation at child molesters. They are not welcomed in my LGBTQ tent.

    It’s one thing if he went home with a 16 yo from a bar, thinking he was 18, and being assured he was 18 from the kid. But he was flat out told that the fictitious person he was flirting with was 16. That’s just wrong, and I don’t think we as a community need to take his side. Did the cops overreact? Perhaps. Would I have done worse to him? Possibly. I’m with the boys in blue here.

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Jon B

    You might feel a bit differently if you on the receiving end of some rough justice, especially for something you were FALSELY accused of.

    As near as I can tell from that other story the councilman wasn’t even charged with anything when the cops beat him up.

    I don’t care what anyone is accused of, any cop who plays vigilante and assaults someone should be charged, and should not be wearing a badge.

    But in tis case, I am surprised that kidnapping charges were brought against Bell in the first place. How could it not have been obvious to the investigators there what was going on?

  • dgz

    “played the Polynesian card”

    …there’s a polynesian card?

  • hyhybt

    @Jon B: I don’t see anything here about sex with a 16-year-old. Or sex of any kind, with anyone for that matter. Giving the neighbors’ kids a soda when they show up unexpectedly is not a crime, nor should it be by any stretch of the imagination.

  • alan brickman

    Sue the police too…

  • Orpheus_lost

    @Jon B

    And therein lies the problem. Trying to logically discuss police brutality with someone who believes the best way to solve problems is to strike out at them is useless. You think violence against people who have been accused, but not convicted of a crime is not only acceptable but preferable to following the law of the land (ie. innocent until proved guilty). It makes one wonder how badly your parents or schoolmates beat you to make you so enraptured with the idea of hurting those are powerless.

  • AlanInSLC

    Unfortunately in Utah there is a “Polynesian Card”, meaning that the Polynesians get treated differently in different circumstances. There is a huge community here of Polynesians and they have a reputation of acting like the victims (and get away with it most of the time), they also are known for being extremely violent, especially when drinking/partying. Not to box them all into a stereotype, its just the common view towards their community here in Utah. Their community is VERY HOMOPHOBIC. They regularly beat their own kids if they show any signs of femaninity, let alone being gay. I have had many friends who have been dis-owned by their families because they wanted to come out of the closet. It is more of a disgrace than almost anything to their families to be concidered homosexual. It is sad, but it is a reality here in Utah.

  • Dave


    “…there’s a polynesian card?”
    I use it all the time. Can’t let the interest build up. Those [email protected] will get you.

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