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ISUPD video shows officer injuring student during August traffic stop

A screenshot from an ISUPD dash cam after Dariq Myles is lifted up by an ISUPD Officer Frankie Contreras during a traffic stop on Aug. 12, 2023. Alongside it is an image provided by Myles that shows the stitches he received in his shoulder as a result of his injuries.

Content warning: This article depicts violence and discusses use of force by police.

When Dariq Myles pulled into a city parking lot in Campustown to park Aug. 12, an Iowa State University Police Department (ISUPD) officer pulled his vehicle behind him, stopping him for tinted windows. The body and dash camera footage from the stop was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday and showed that the officer, Frankie Contreras, grabbed Myles after he asked for a sergeant on the scene and took him to the ground, tearing his labrum, which required surgery.

“I’ve been scared for my life since the day that it happened,” Myles said in an interview with the Daily.

Myles, who was double majoring in criminal justice and psychology, withdrew his enrollment from Iowa State after what happened in August, citing safety reasons.

“Because of this incident, I never re-enrolled, and honestly, I don’t plan on re-enrolling until something happens with him,” Myles said. “I don’t feel safe. I don’t want to be penalized by a faculty member or staff.”

Myles also said he feared for his life and that he did not want to “become another statistic.”

“That’s why I put my hands up in the video because I was so terrified that he would say that I reached for his gun or something and he will try to kill me in that lot,” Myles said. “I’ve seen that story too many times. I just didn’t want to fall victim to it.”

In a statement sent to the Daily, ISUPD Chief Michael Newton said he understands concerns from the community and that the department conducts a “thorough review any time an officer uses force.”

“While the review concluded that there was not an excessive use of force in this situation, the review and the officer himself acknowledged that he could have used better de-escalation techniques during the traffic stop. The officer in this case has and will continue to receive advanced training in these areas,” Newton stated.

Myles said he was “greatly disheartened” by Newton’s statement and questioned what ISUPD defines as excessive use of force.

“To see that there was no excessive use of force—even though I have a fully torn labrum; [I] still have back problems and neck issues—I don’t know what a use of force is when somebody is required to get surgery or they’re required to alter their life, all because of an incident that happened because somebody forced me to the ground,” Myles said.

Myles added that it did not “shock” him that there was no wrongdoing found because the police investigated themselves.

“If there’s not a problem with them doing that, then where do the problems lie?” Myles said. “Does it take for one of us to get shot and killed for that to be excessive use of force? Does it take for one of us to be extremely wounded?”

According to Contreras’ LinkedIn, he has never worked for another police department and has been with ISUPD since June 2021. He previously worked in four security jobs and did so for nearly two years at a Las Vegas hotel and casino before beginning with ISUPD.

A screenshot of ISUPD Officer Frankie Contreras’ dash camera when he said he initially saw Dariq Myles’ vehicle Aug. 12, 2023.

Pulling Myles over

On Aug. 12, Contreras was heading north on Welch Avenue when he turned around in front of Cy’s Roost and turned onto Chamberlain Street going eastbound. The ISUPD vehicle was about 500 feet from Myles’ vehicle when he turned into the parking lot as Contreras followed without his lights on.

Contreras later told another ISUPD officer that he pulled Myles over because of a dark window tint and that he saw him at the intersection of Welch Avenue and Chamberlain Street.

However, once in the lot, Contreras activated his lights and pulled his vehicle behind Myles’. Then Myles and Contreras exited their vehicles, but the body camera did not show Contreras approaching Myles, so it is unclear how much was said while it was not recording.

Body camera begins recording

Once the body camera recording began, Myles’ driver-side door was opened with Myles standing next to it and Contreras told Myles to get back in his vehicle and sit down, which Myles did. He was also asked to roll down his window, which he did not do because he said he did not have to.

A screenshot of an ISUPD dash camera shows ISUPD Officer Frankie Contreras grab ahold of Dariq Myles during a traffic stop on Aug. 12, 2023.

Within eight seconds of the body camera recording beginning, Myles told Contreras to get his supervisor because he felt uncomfortable. Immediately after, Contreras asked Myles to stand up.

Myles, who was sitting in the driver’s seat but facing the officer, leaned backward over the console, and told Contreras not to touch him as Contreras repeatedly asked him to stand up.

“If you don’t fucking stand—all right, bro,” Contreras told Myles, who then exited the vehicle and put his hands up. “If you don’t stand up, I’m going to fucking tase you.”

Then Contreras grabbed Myles, and at some point, his body camera fell to the ground. The dash camera, however, showed Contreras picking Myles up by the waist and then attempting to throw him to the ground before tackling him.

After he is on the ground, Myles is heard repeatedly asking for help and for Contreras to stop while screaming in pain, but it is unclear exactly what Contreras did because it is out of view of both the dash and body camera.

“I haven’t done nothing wrong, bro. Stop, what are you doing? I can’t [move my arm back]; you’re fucking twisting my arm and you have your knee in my spine,” Myles said on the ground with Contreras on him.

Contreras got off of Myles after almost a minute but said twice, “I’m going to fucking tase you,” before doing so. Myles also asked again for a sergeant to be at the scene.

A screenshot of ISUPD Officer Frankie Contreras’ body camera, which fell to the ground, showing him and Dariq Myles.

Contreras then told Myles, who remained on the ground, to put “both hands behind your fucking back.” When Myles said Contreras had his knee in his spine, Contreras responded with, “Shut the fuck up and put your hands behind your goddamn back.”

After placing cuffs on Myles, Contreras put his body camera back on and another unknown person in a police uniform arrived and said they were an Ames Police Department lieutenant, who appears to be Mike Arkovich. Myles told him to look at what Contreras had done to his face and to watch Contreras’ body camera.

Myles told the Daily a total of nine officers arrived at the Campustown parking lot where he was stopped.

Contreras emptied Myles’ pockets while he was still on the ground, then picked him up and put him in the back of his vehicle.

“Can you help me? Look at my wrist, bro. I can’t feel my fucking wrist,” Myles said as he was put into the back of the ISUPD vehicle.

Conversations with other officers

A screenshot of an ISUPD dash camera shows ISUPD Officer Frankie Contreras (far right) beginning to take Dariq Myles to the back of his vehicle on Aug. 12, 2023.

Contreras recounted multiple times with different officers his account of what happened and in one recount said Myles was “bitching, bitching, bitching.”

“So I pull up; he’s getting out of his car. I’m telling him to sit back down. He’s trying to fight me, and I’m like dude—he just—ridiculous,” Contreras told another officer.

When asked by another officer, Contreras said that he was “good” and that he only suffered a “little cut” on his finger.

Contreras also recounted to another officer that he searched Myles’ vehicle and found a “shit ton of shake” in the sunglasses holder and then told another officer, “I mean, did you see how much cash he had on him.”

From the dashcam, Myles can be heard asking an officer, “This is how you build rapport with your citizens?” The officer responds, “Most of the time, we don’t have a tussle.”

“You clearly searched my car. There’s nothing in there. I don’t smoke. I go to school at Iowa State for criminal justice. So I am being hurt and assaulted for what, sir?” Myles said to another officer who walked over to talk to Myles.

Alleged Mortensen Road Kum & Go theft despite alibi

A screenshot of a Snapchat video provided by Dariq Myles which shows him near the intersection of Chamberlain Street and Stanton Avenue on Nov. 11, 2023.

In November, Myles was currently charged with fifth-degree theft and interference with official acts and is scheduled for a trial in March for the theft of a $34 bottle of alcohol at the Kum & Go on Mortensen Road.

The police report shows the theft occurred on Nov. 11 at “approximately” 1:51 a.m. and that the suspect was engaged in a foot pursuit by an Ames Police officer upon arrival at 1:57 a.m.

The Daily obtained a Snapchat video that shows Myles 2.5 miles away, near the intersection of Chamberlain Street and Stanton Avenue with friends at 1:56 a.m., one minute before the suspect was chased by police.

“Officers then initiated a foot pursuit. However, officers lost sight of the subject. Upon talking with other officers who are familiar with residents in the area, I was able to identify the male subject as Dariq Myles via driver’s license photo,” Ames Police Officer Brenda Dao stated in the conclusion of her report about the early morning Nov. 11 response to Kum & Go.

In an interview with the Daily, Ames Police Sgt. and Public Information Officer Amber Christian said officers do not comment on cases that are pending trial and was unable to confirm whether Dao spoke with Ames officers or ISUPD officers to identify Myles.

Myles said Ames Police alleging the Kum & Go theft was him is “all purely from Aug. 12” and suggested Contreras may have been the officer to suggest he committed the theft.

Over 1,200 signatures calling for the firing of Contreras

A petition was started by Kyle Kloppe, a senior in business analytics, after he saw the footage posted to the Iowa State University public group on Snapchat.

“I have tinted windows in my car, so it kind of spoke to me in a way where, you know, of all the altercations I’ve had over my tinted windows, it’s never been that escalated,” Kloppe said.

The petition, which was posted Wednesday, calls on “the relevant authorities” to remove Contreras from duty and conduct an impartial investigation with 1,287 signatures. It also calls for stricter regulations and training protocols that “emphasize de-escalation techniques rather than resorting to violence.”

Kloppe said he hopes 10% of enrolled students sign the petition, which is about 3,000 people.

View Comments (21)
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Comments (21)

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  • D

    David Jackson | Jan 28, 2024 at 9:50 pm

    I don’t know what’s worse, entitled brats jumping on the everything is racism and not possibly my behavior bandwagon, or tactically incompetent university police.

    If a police officer has to fight someone, all bets are off. A street fight can be brutal, and they have to maintain control over their firearm so whoever they’re fighting doesn’t get control of it. Someone will always cry about why they shot someone without thinking about what would have happened if they didn’t. In this case, why the immediate uncooperative attitude when the officer approached? That’s not going to set things up for success when dealing with the police.

    That said, an obese officer who didn’t order the guy to the ground before he tried to pick him up and slam the guy onto a paved parking lot when the guy wasn’t fighting back, then when he couldn’t pull off the body slam went into a full nelson which could break someone’s neck, is essentially legalized assault. The officer was in more danger when the guy was still in the car reaching for things than he was when he was standing outside of it with his hands in the air, if anything when he was in the car not listening was the time an escalation of force was warranted.

    The Chief saying after review this wasn’t excessive use of force is the icing on the cake. If the suspect had resisted an order to get on the ground that’s one thing, but unless this story is written poorly, he stood up after being told too and had his hands in the air. These guys are clowns. Wasn’t this incident only a couple weeks apart from another ISU officer hitting two people with her car in a chase she wasn’t supposed to be participating in?

    ISU is a state institution, Iowa has a state police force, the Iowa State Patrol. They should have an office on campus with some detectives to investigate campus crimes, some uniformed officers to react to campus emergencies, conduct event security, and who otherwise are conducting foot patrols on university property which would also be better community policing for the students, or doing admin work, and some support staff to cover dispatching, record keeping, federal reporting requirements, etc. That’s it. The regular city policing can be left to the Ames Police and Story County Sheriff’s office. It’s obvious the current standalone university police bureaucracy can’t maintain professionalism on its own.

  • L

    Larry | Jan 26, 2024 at 11:21 am

    Yall need to stop explaining and do something about it, putting him in more training ain’t gone do nothing but make him better at slamming someone unlawfully. He need to lose his job, he fucked up someomes shoulder, there back, there hips. All of those are real injuries what more proof do you bastards need!!!!

  • D

    DD | Jan 26, 2024 at 10:37 am

    Both Contreras and Newton need to be fired immediately for brutalizing a citizen.

    • T

      Taylor Noe | Jan 27, 2024 at 8:10 pm

      The fact this wasn’t ruled as excessive force is crazy. As an ISU student I’m appalled

      • P

        Perry Hutchison | Jan 31, 2024 at 4:38 pm

        As an ISU alum (MS 1972, PhD 1976) I am more than appalled, I am outraged. Contreras should be prosecuted for at least felony assault.

  • C

    Christi | Jan 26, 2024 at 10:35 am

    This officer is poison in the ISUPD AND NEEDS FIRED IMMEDIATELY! This was excessive force and shame on the ISUPD for not determining that I’m their investigation!!! The other wasn’t talking the citizen through the process of what he wanted. He was cussing and threatening him with a taser. The office could have informed the citizen, “At this time, I’d like to detain you so I need you out your car and hands behind back so WE CAN BOTH FEEL SAFE while talking until back up comes.” THEN…taken a few steps back and asked the citizen to get out the car. That is correct behavior and communication CITIZENS DESERVE AT A TRAFFIC STOP!!

    Also reading the comments the officer said to his coworkers, about shake in sun glass case and lots of cash on hand…. Sounds like the officer was alluding the citizen was a drug dealer so the officer had the right to have excessive force. However that wasn’t the reason the officer pulled him over. So was the citizen charged with drug trafficking. Or was the officer just feeling guilty for the excessive force and trying to defer the attention away from his hostile and violent behavior to this citizen?????

    This officer needs fired immediately!!!!! And he needs to not be able to be hired in any other police dept in the nation!!!!

  • E

    Evan | Jan 26, 2024 at 10:07 am

    If people would just follow the orders of the police officers. For example: got in his car, rolled his window down, and had a civil conversation. Put away their pride for a bit, and let themselves be wronged so then they can take up their issues with the department later, there would be a lot fewer issues in the heat of the moment, and fewer people would get hurt.

    • J

      Jackson | Jan 29, 2024 at 7:55 am

      Civil disobedience is one of the best ways of combatting unequal treatment under the law historically.
      I do not understand why we should “let ourselves be wronged” by those charged with protecting our rights.

  • C

    Cynthia | Jan 26, 2024 at 8:49 am

    A lot of second-guessing here by folks who know very little about racism and police brutality. Give me a break.

  • S

    Safety first | Jan 26, 2024 at 8:29 am

    Website above is provided for those who may experience such brutality from officers and may not know where to go to report it.

  • X

    Xiang | Jan 26, 2024 at 7:42 am

    One should know when and why to follow an order, and when and why not, especially for an educated person.

    “Myles’ driver-side door was opened with Myles standing next to it and Contreras told Myles to get back in his vehicle and sit down, which Myles did. He was also asked to roll down his window, which he did not do because he said he did not have to.”

    • L

      L take bud | Jan 26, 2024 at 8:40 am

      Still does not explain the officers aggressive action towards Myles afterwards. I don’t think not rolling your window down normally means that it’s ok for an officer to body slam you to the ground?

  • G

    GregoryN Whitis | Jan 26, 2024 at 6:27 am

    Seems Myles could have helped deescalate the situation by following officers orders to roll down window with lots of “no sirs” and “yes sirs”. Bad attitudes during traffic stops usually don’t go well with Rambo oriented officers.

    • N

      Nene | Jan 26, 2024 at 8:27 am

      First Off He Was Parked When The Officer Pulled Behind His Car Define A Traffic Stop He Did Follow Orders He Would’ve Been Shot Down And Killed For Being Black With Tint If He Didn’t Jump Out The Car Then It Would’ve Been Oh I Thought He Was Reaching For A Gun Go Watch The Video On YouTube He Was Too Eager To Do That To Him. His Properness offended Him Cause He’s A Black Man With Intelligence. He Was Never Read His Rights Just Thrown In The Back Of A Police Car. Even The Sergeant Said He Was Being Arrested For Having Tinted Window And He Had To Correct The Sergeant By Saying Dont U Get A Citation For That. That explains why the deputy hasn’t had Enough Training. AMES POLICE DEPARTMENT NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE ‼️ WHAT IS JUSTICE ⁉️

    • L

      L take bud | Jan 26, 2024 at 8:46 am

      I think that’s the whole point we don’t need Rambo oriented officers! Even though things would have gone better if Myles complied, it’s the officers job to deescalate situations instead of losing their cool immediately and thinking it’s ok to body slam someone over something so small

  • N

    No | Jan 25, 2024 at 10:29 pm

    Why add the details about him stealing something MONTHS later?? Seems irrelevant in the middle of the article.

    • K

      K | Jan 26, 2024 at 7:27 am

      It’s because he is accused of doing it despite being over 2 miles away when it happened. So it’s like the police are targeting him because of what happened in August

    • K

      Kay | Jan 26, 2024 at 7:40 am

      No the police accused him of stealing but there is proof he was else where. When this happened the article is just stating that he has proof and this came after this incident

      • T

        Trent | Jan 26, 2024 at 9:58 am

        His “proof” is also a screenshot that doesn’t prove where or when it was actually taken, as there wouldn’t be any metadata to trace it back. The time stamp on Snapchat (shown in the screenshot) can be easily edited/duplicated and doesn’t hold to be a strong alibi, but that is for the courts to decide.

    • N

      Nene | Jan 26, 2024 at 8:15 am

      It’s Stating That He’s Being Harassed Clearly Don’t Get On Here Talking Just To Talk That’s The Problem Yall Dont Want The Truth To Be Known

      • N

        No | Jan 26, 2024 at 11:49 am

        Okay Thanks Nene I Had No Idea That That’s What They Were Trying To Show By Adding It Into The Article Thanks For Your Help