Police experts have reviewed bodycam footage from an August 8 incident and have opined that the taser use was “horrible judgment” and a possible department policy violation.
On August 8, Angela Brown called police to her apartment and requested help getting her sons to leave her apartment. Officers Johnson and Sullivan responded to the call. Body camera and cell phone footage document the incident.
Brown let the officers into her home and showed them into her living room where her sons were sitting. She said, “Here they at — disrespecting me and everything.” When the officers asked what was going on, Richard Coleman, 24, said “We just chillin,’” and got up saying he wanted to explain the situation and calm down his half-brother, James Crawley, 25.
The officers told Coleman to sit down and he refused, while Brown yelled that the police should arrest her two sons. Crawley got up and moved aggressively toward his mother and Coleman got between the two of them. The police officers warned the men that they were about to get tased.
Officer Sullivan told Crawley to come to him, but he refused. Sullivan shot Crawley with his taser. Coleman pulled the barbs and wires out of his brother and videoed the scene on his cell phone. Johnson tased Coleman.
Johnson and Sullivan physically subdued Coleman and Crawley jumped into the scuffle. A third officer arrived and Coleman and Crawley are eventually handcuffed.
Coleman pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. Crawley pleaded guilty to fourth degree felony assault. Following the incident, one of the brothers filed a complaint with the Citizen Complaint Authority.
A professor who is a retired police officer and an expert witness consultant who is also a retired police officer reviewed the video footage for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Both experts said that the officers clearly did not follow the city police department’s de-escalation policy when confronting the two men. The police experts opined that proper procedure would have been stating that the men were under arrest. Cincinnati Police Department policy states that tasers are only to be deployed against those who “are actively resisting arrest.”
Gary A. Rini, a former police officer and commander who now works as a police consultant and expert witness, said, “Anyone with any common sense can see the officers never give the kids a chance … and they immediately turned to a weapon that is one step below using lethal force…The brothers were not looking to fight. And after that first question, at no point did the officers try and calm things down or even try to find out what was going on.”
David Thomas, a 20-year police veteran who is now an associate forensics professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, said, “This is a domestic dispute, no different than if a husband and wife were going at it…At a certain point, they could have just put them in handcuffs and walked them into separate rooms…The magic words should have been ‘you are under arrest’ and at no point do either of the officers say that.”