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Moorhead police officer charged with assaulting handcuffed woman

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Jennifer Joan Thomas2 / 3
Moorhead police officer Matthew Lambert3 / 3

FARGO — A Moorhead police officer faces a felony charge of aggravated assault for allegedly fracturing a nasal bone and bruising the right eye of a woman who was handcuffed.

According to documents filed in Cass County District Court:

Fargo police were called to Sanford Medical Center on Sept. 9 for a report of contact by bodily fluids.

When officers arrived at the hospital, they were met by Moorhead Officer Matthew Lambert, who had brought an arrested woman, 47-year-old Jennifer Joan Thomas, to the hospital to be medically checked out.

Lambert, who’s either 32 or 33, said Thomas at one point stood up from her hospital bed, and when he tried to get her to sit down, she spit in his face.

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Lambert also said as he tackled Thomas onto the hospital bed, she appeared to strike her face on part of the bed.

Through an investigation, however, it was determined Lambert struck Thomas in the face with his elbow, court documents said. Thomas suffered a fractured nasal bone and a bruise to her right eye, according to the documents.

Earlier that day, Moorhead police were called to Buffalo Wild Wings for a report of a woman who was armed with a handgun and was making suicidal comments.

Witnesses told police the woman, later identified as Thomas, started talking to people at the bar, saying she was going to kill herself, court documents stated.

At one point,Thomas pulled out a gun and told people to stay where they were before putting the gun back in her waistband, court documents said.

When officers arrived and took Thomas into custody, they determined she had a loaded BB gun, according to court documents, which alleged Thomas spit in an officer’s face while another officer was trying to place a seat belt around her in a squad car.

Charges of fourth-degree assault on a peace officer, threats of violence, and carrying a BB gun in a public place are pending against Thomas in Clay County District Court.

Asked for comment, the Moorhead Police Department said that if a statement was to be released, the city would do so. A message sent to the city of Moorhead seeking comment was not immediately returned, and as of Thursday evening, Oct. 18, the city had issued no statement.

On Friday morning, Oct. 19, Moorhead City Manager Christina Volkers issued a statement that said the city had no specific comment on the matter.

The statement included history of Lambert's employement with the city, stating he had been employed as a police officer since April 2012. The statement said there is currently a complaint against Lambert and the city is considering the appropriate course of action.

The statement also said Lambert is on paid administrative leave.

Lambert has been summoned to appear in court Friday, Nov. 2. Court records did not list an attorney for him as of Thursday.