Des Moines Police Clear Cop with History of Violence for Cracking Black Man’s Ribs

Cody Grimes' booking photo for his 2013 domestic assault causing injury arrest after allegedly throwing his ex-girlfriend down a flight of stairs.

A Des Moines cop — who in the recent past has fired a gunshot at a photojournalist, busted a groom’s face at his own wedding reception, and thrown his ex-girlfriend against a door and down a flight of stairs — has now been cleared by the DMPD for cracking the ribs of a 61-year-old black man who called police for assistance in March.

The officer, 35-year-old Cody Grimes, responded to a call to police the man made asking for help in getting unwanted people out of his residence. According to the Des Moines Register, after arriving Grimes kneed the man in the ribs when he allegedly refused to put an arm behind his back while being arrested for allegedly slamming a door on Grimes, “causing paint to transfer from the door onto the officer’s boot and uniform.” The man, who was taken to Broadlawns Medical Center for two rib fractures, is awaiting trial on charges of assaulting a police officer and interfering with official acts.

Meanwhile, Grimes remained on active duty during the investigation that on Tuesday concluded he’d acted with appropriate force. DMPD spokesman Paul Parizek — who previously told the Register that Grimes’ past violence would not factor into the latest investigation — told the paper after he was cleared: “Knee strikes are a force option, and are often effective in overcoming resistance. Injury is not an automatic indicator of excessive force, and definitely not a desired outcome. We chose the least amount of force necessary to overcome the resistance offered during an arrest. Voluntary compliance during those situations is the best choice, and safest for all involved.”

The man whose ribs Grimes fractured has a different story. He’s denied slamming the door on Grimes and says he wasn’t refusing to comply but unable to put his arm behind his back because his body was on top of it and he was in pain from having been already kneed in the ribs. “He seemed irritated with me, because he kept telling me to shut up or he’d take me to jail,” the man said, according to the Register. “He rushed in and attacked me, and threw me on the floor and started beating me upside the head and in the ribs.”

The DMPD’s decision means that it now considers Grimes — who was previously fired by the department for his domestic assault charge in December 2013 and before that was responsible for a $75,000 city settlement in the groom wedding party assault — fit to uphold the department’s mission to “protect lives and property, and to enforce laws impartially.”

Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.