A Utah police officer is accused of abducting a family member on Thanksgiving amid a bizarre outburst in which the officer allegedly believed he was “being watched by an unknown organization,” according to recent reports.
South Jordan Master Officer Scott Elliott Russell has been placed on administrative leave with pay following Thursday’s events, local affiliate FOX13 Salt Lake City and The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Russell, reportedly a 15-year veteran of the South Jordan Police Department, and a relative went for a drive before their Thanksgiving meal in Provo, Utah, on Thursday when the officer began acting “irrational and paranoid” – first refusing the relative’s request to take them home and then driving into a water embankment, according to the reports.
Spokespersons for the South Jordon Police Department and the Juab County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests seeking information on Monday morning.
When the family member, who identified Russell as their nephew, exited the vehicle, Russell allegedly took their belongings and ordered them to take off their shoes, according to the report. Russell was allegedly armed at the time.
Russell then took the battery from the victim’s cellphone and got rid of their things and his gun, according to FOX13.
The pair then found an abandoned building, where the officer ordered his relative to stay put. After he left, the victim fled from the building to the roadway, where they flagged down a vehicle, the news station reported.
The family member reported the alleged abduction to police after a loved one took them to the hospital.
In the meantime, Russell, who was off duty, called 911 to say he was involved in a car crash “with no injuries,” FOX13 reported. Responding officers found Russell’s gun and his relative’s property in addition to the vehicle.
Police arrested Russell on Friday, but said it was “hard to follow [his] recollection of events” during a subsequent interview, the station reported. Russell reportedly "claimed he had been set up, and believed he was actively being watched by an unknown organization.”
He also said he ditched his gun so whoever was watching him could know that “he didn’t pose a threat,” according to the Tribune.
Russell is being held without bail on charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, burglary, reckless endangerment, criminal trespassing, among others, FOX13 reported.