Prosecutor to drop charges against dancing man

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Stephen Unger

Stephen Unger

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — Cottonwood Heights prosecutor Tim Merrill said he intends to dismiss three misdemeanor charges against a 68-year-old man who was accused of distracting drivers by dancing on the corner of a busy intersection.

Holladay resident Stephen Unger was charged with disorderly conduct, failure to disclose identity and interference with arresting officer in connection with an August 24 incident on the corner of Highland Dr. and Fort Union Blvd. Unger’s dancing antics are familiar to many people who live and work in Holladay, but they weren’t as welcome in Cottonwood Heights, where he was having his vehicle serviced at the time of the incident.

Cottonwood Heights police said they received complaints about a man dressed in brightly colored clothing who appeared to be distracting motorists and possibly jumping in front of traffic .

Officers responded to the scene and attempted to learn who he was and what he was doing.

“Our intent was never to harass Mr. Unger,” said Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo. “We only wanted to assure his safety and the safety of passing motorists. In this case, both Mr. Unger and the CHPD could have done a better job of communicating at the time of the incident.”

Merrill said Unger’s case isn’t worth the time and resources of the court.

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. defended the actions of police, but also said Unger’s behavior was misunderstood.

“We all have unique relatives whom we love and appreciate because we know and understand them. Our police recently became acquainted with one of Holladay’s favorite sons who possesses unique abilities we did not understand,” Cullimore wrote in the press release. “While I believe that our police simply tried to keep both Mr. Unger and passing motorists safe, I doubt CHPD will ever be invited to be judges on ‘America Has Talent.’ Mr. Unger is welcome anytime to safely walk the streets of Cottonwood Heights and brighten our day as he has done for the residents of Holladay for many years.”

Unger, a retired anesthesiologist and Vietnam veteran, can often be seen dancing on 2300 E in Holladay.




    When the man decided to fight the charges the prosecutor, Tim Merrill, suddenly got cold feet. Is there anybody who believes Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo when he says “We only wanted to assure his safety ….”?

    They were probably afraid the story might go national, and that the jury would award the dancer a medal.

    • Michael

      This episode only shows the effort the CHPD will expend to prevent motorists from being distracted………..while they are texting or talking on their mobile phones.

  • Bill

    Geat-Utah is in the news for yet another backward incident. Whether anyone cares or not, the rest of the country is laughing at us. Again.

  • Finny Wiggen

    The city and police chief owe this man an apology. They were way out of line, and what is scary is that they are still defending their actions. The mayor and police chief genuinely believe that this man bears responsibility rather than understanding that the blame is 100% on their side, for approaching him without probable cause.

    They are dropping the case, because they would lose.

    If you want your credibility and respect back, apologize. You damage yourself, and turn the public against you when you act so inappropriately. The cure is an apology. Doubling down, only worsens how the public views you.

  • mhanson7

    Now if we can just get the thousands of other petty, victimless crimes to cause this kind of PR scramble. People might just start having respect for the justice system again.

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