Source: Submitted videoVideo of an arrest dispute involving Lima police.
LIMA — A police chief’s decision his officers acted appropriately and would not be disciplined in the August arrest of a pregnant woman captured on video that she and the NAACP said clearly shows she was assaulted was met with shock Tuesday.
Brittany Osberry said she does not agree with any of Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin’s findings outlined in a letter he sent to her. She referred additional questions to her attorney, Ken Rexford.
Rexford said it was clear officers assaulted Osberry and that she never resisted arrest as officers had said. He said anyone can watch the video recorded by a resident on the street and see it for themselves.
NAACP President Ron Fails said Martin’s decision amounts to “a cover-up.” He said Martin was just protecting his officers.
“For the chief to police himself, how do we then get a fair evaluation of the facts when we have the law officers who have violated the law policing themselves,” Fails asked.
Fails said the NAACP plans to make a complaint to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice. Osberry also is exploring the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the city and Police Department.
Fails said police officers need to be held accountable for their actions. He said there is a system in place to protect police officers, including training them to tell people to “stop resisting” every time they approach someone on a possible arrest, to protect any actions they take.
Martin said he made his determination after reviewing reports from the case and the video numerous times including on a large screen to get a better view. He said officers acted appropriately given the circumstances. No officer will be disciplined in the arrest and use of force against Osberry, Martin said.
The NAACP has demanded the termination of Officers Mark Frysinger and Aaron Montgomery, who they said were the principal officers involved in Osberry’s arrest.
In Martin’s letter, he said Frysinger arrested her “on a good-faith belief that he had sufficient probable cause to justify the arrest.” He said she failed to comply with his commands to leave the scene and when she was told she was under arrest, she resisted officers’ efforts to take her into custody.
“The level of force used by officers was in direct response to your level of resistance,” Martin said.
Video in dispute
Rexford provided a copy of a court record he filed in the criminal case that ultimately was dismissed against Osberry spelling out the events that transpired and the position he and Osberry continue to express. He said there was no resistance. He said the video plays out in a matter of seconds and clearly shows Osberry did not resist arrest.
He said Osberry arrives at the home at 516 S. Pine St. to pick up relatives and is quickly approached by officers. There was a brief exchange between Osberry and Frysinger as the officer approached the car. Frysinger told her to leave and she asked, “Why,” Rexford said.
Frysinger told her she was being disorderly and asked her to leave again. She then said she did nothing wrong, Rexford said.
What happens next is where both sides have no agreement on what happened despite both sides watching the video numerous times.
Rexford said Frysinger jerked Osberry, who is 5 foot 3 and 104 pounds, from her vehicle. At least two other officers joined in to help. Osberry told them she was pregnant and officers zap her with a stun gun in the abdomen. She also was lifted off the ground by her neck, he said.
Officers wrote in reports that Osberry was trying to fight them. Martin said the video shows her twisting and trying to pull away. He also said the video shows her striking an officer and the officer asking why she hit him.
“She strikes an officer in the head. You hear the connection being made and you see the officer’s head snap back,” Martin said.
Rexford disputed that in his filing.
“She did not and could not punch the officer because her hands were restrained,” Rexford wrote.
Fails completely disagrees with Martin’s assessment of the video. He said she did not swing at an officer.
“I see where she was doing what anyone else would do who was being hurt, whose arm was being twisted, who was being choked from the back,” Fails said.
Martin said officers used a reasonable amount of force, nothing excessive.
“The officers were trying to use the least level of force they could,” he said.
He said a stun gun was used instead of increasing the amount of force, which would have been body strikes and taking Osberry to the ground.
Fails also criticized Frysinger and Montgomery for their police reports that tried to cover up their actions including Frysinger reporting that Osberry got out of her vehicle.
Martin also addressed the inaccuracies in Frysinger’s report specifically when he wrote she exited her vehicle. He said there was no disputing the statement was incorrect but there was no indication Frysinger intentionally lied. Martin also said two other officers at the scene said in reports Frysinger removed her from the vehicle.
“Officer Frysinger made a mistake when writing his report but there is no evidence to substantiate that he intentionally misrepresented the facts,” Martin wrote.
Martin also said it was important to remember the full picture that played out that day at the scene. Officers surrounded a house where a man involved in a shooting earlier in the day was hiding. A vehicle then pulled into the driveway, which turned out to be Osberry, but at the time, officers had no idea who was in the vehicle or what the intentions were of those inside.
Officers had to leave positions of cover to expose themselves while dealing with the vehicle. He said the situation played out very fast while trying to control the scene where a violent man was hiding inside a house.
“Officers have to make decisions in a matter of seconds that people like you and I can take hours, days, weeks, months to review,” Martin said.
The chief said such scenes are not the place to try to argue with police officers. If someone is arrested in such an incident, he said they are afforded constitutional rights to dispute the charges in court.
“That’s how our system works and that’s how it works in this case,” Martin said.
Fails said prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against Osberry, which proves that police officers acted inappropriately.
On a smaller note, Martin said there will be some issues addressed that occurred during Osberry’s arrest but those are procedural. Officers did not properly manage the scene by blocking off traffic on the road and there was no audio for cruiser videos, although no cruiser video captured the arrest, but even if an arrest goes out of the lens of the camera, the audio often can be heard.