LPD chief says probe into Secession incident still underway

LIMA — More than a month has passed since Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin vowed to conduct a “thorough” internal investigation into a Sept. 28 incident during which a Lima woman in an advanced state of pregnancy was wrestled to the ground by city police officers.

A video of the Sept. 28 incident that surfaced on social media appeared to show Lima Police Department Patrolmen Matt Boss and Brandon Stephenson wrestling 32-year-old Kenyatta Secession, who was nine months pregnant at the time, to the ground. It raised questions about whether excessive force was being used on the 32-year-old woman, or if she was resisting arrest. The video shows Secession being handcuffed by the officers with at least one of them appearing to put his knee on her back.

Local NAACP officials came to the defense of Secession after the incident and suggested the officers in question used excessive force when apprehending the woman, who reportedly had outstanding warrants for her arrest. The NAACP demanded that an independent investigator, and not the Lima Police Department, lead a probe into the episode. Martin at the time said the matter would be addressed internally.

Asked on Tuesday if the inquiry into the incident had concluded, Martin said, “The short answer is that the investigation has not yet been completed, primarily because we’ve had difficulty in contacting Ms. Secession.”

Martin said the supervisor at the Lima Police Department who is heading up the probe has reached out to local NAACP President Ronald Fail to act as a conduit in gaining Secession’s cooperation.

“We want her side of the story. We have some questions for her. We’d like to obtain her medical records; information like that would be very important to us as we move forward,” Martin said. “But if [Secession] refuses to talk to us, we will close out our investigation without her input.”

Martin said he has given the investigator “a couple more weeks” to get information from Secession.

“At this point we’re not saying the officers have done something wrong, and we’re not saying they haven’t,” Martin added.

The chief said he has not spoken with the officers. Both have remained on active duty since the episode.

“When I get the report, if I have any questions I will send it back [to the supervisor] for additional information,” he said.

Secession gave birth to a healthy baby girl on Oct. 10.

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By J Swygart

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