LIMA — The NAACP Lima Chapter renewed its calls for body cameras for the Lima Police Department and an outside investigatory body to explore the use of potential excessive force, especially against black women, during a Tuesday press conference after a video was released this past weekend of a confrontation between 30-year-old Ashley Hardy and Sgt. Nick Hart.
“We want outside investigators. We think it’s unfair for the police to police themselves. It makes no sense,” NAACP Lima Chapter President Ronald Fails said. “ … Right now, there is great skepticism. There is a tremendous amount of unbelief with regard to the way policing is conducted and carried out in this city.”
During the short press event, Fails also said the media failed to give an accurate portrayal of the incident. Hardy, who had been tased during the confrontation, took the podium to give her view of Saturday’s events when she had been escorted from the St. Gerard Festival and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing official business.
The two narratives — Sgt. Nick Hart’s arrest report and Hardy’s account given Tuesday — align except for a few differences.
Hardy said she had been disciplining her children when asked to leave. Hart’s report said he had been asked to escort Hardy out because she had been “shouting profanities.”
Either way, Hardy complied with Hart’s escort. By the time they left the grounds, an argument between the two became heated. And that’s when the video begins. The two can be seen clearly arguing outside of the festival until a red SUV obstructs the view right as Hardy began running.
Hardy said at that moment, she tried to leave. She said Hart then grabbed her arm, which aligns with Hart’s narrative and the video. According to the incident report, Hart had been trying to stop her because she denied giving him identification for a disorderly conduct citation and was going to arrest her for obstructing official business.
“When you get scared, you run, you either flight or you fight. I don’t fight. I’m not going to fight the police. I ran. That’s what I did. I ran. At that moment he was running towards me. I stopped as soon as he ripped my shirt off my back,” Hardy said.
Hardy said she questioned Hart about why he had torn her shirt.
“He said ‘You keep on talking, I’m going to tase you,’ and I said ‘For what? I’m standing here. I’m not doing anything.’ And that’s when he tased me. And that’s the part that nobody had seen,” Hardy said.
Hart’s narrative reads, “She stepped away from me and faced me. I pointed my taser at her, and I advised her she was going to be tased if she did not comply. Ashley still refused to comply. I deployed my taser.”
The Lima Police Department has ordered an investigation of the incident, Police Chief Kevin Martin said.
“When I first found out about this incident over the weekend, not just the incident, but the concerns being raised by members of the public, I ordered that a fact-finding mission find out if the use of force was appropriate or not,” Martin said.
Once the facts have been collected, Martin said he will be turning over the information to the City of Lima Law Department, which will then review if there were any police infractions. The law director is an elected position separate from the mayor’s administration, which is the umbrella the police department falls under.
Fails also called for body cameras during Tuesday’s event, which he said would have provided additional video evidence of the confrontation between Hart and Hardy.
The Lima Police Department has already sent out bids for a body camera system, but none of the bids returned in the first round met the system specifications that the police department had requested, Martin said. The city has since made clarifications to the request for a second round of bids, which has since been sent out. The second round is due by July 10.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.