LIMA — A Lima woman who was tased by police for causing a disturbance during this summer’s St. Gerard Festival avoided trial by pleading guilty Thursday in Lima Municipal Court to two of three misdemeanor charges filed against her.
Ashley Hardy, 31, accepted a deal from prosecutors that called for her to plead guilty to counts of resisting arrest, a second-degree misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor.
In exchange for her pleas, prosecutors dismissed a count of obstructing official business.
Judge David Rodabaugh followed a recommendation contained in the plea agreement and sentenced Hardy to 10 days in jail. An additional 80 days of jail time were suspended upon the condition that Hardy have no similar violations during the next two years. The Lima woman was fined $150 on the resisting arrest charge and $50 for disorderly conduct.
A jury trial was scheduled for Thursday but was canceled upon the defendant’s acceptance of the plea deal.
The charges against Hardy stem from her failure to leave the festival grounds when asked by festival officials and police after repeatedly shouting obscenities.
Prosecutor Nicole Smith said in court Thursday that Hardy was “vulgar and offensive to other festival-goers and was told she needed to leave the grounds” on several occasions.
Smith said Sgt. Nick Hart of the Lima Police Department instructed Hardy to cease the vulgar language or leave the grounds, “and then she cursed at the officer. When told she was being placed under arrest, she began to run and that’s when Sgt. Hart deployed his taser.”
Hardy, who attempted on more than one occasion to interrupt the prosecutor, did not deny she used coarse language on the festival grounds but said she never swore at police.
“When (Hart) told me to leave, I said ‘that’s fine,’” Hardy told the court. “The argument came when he told me to go outside the festival and then continued to stand there and say things to me. I didn’t curse; I just talked to him about police harassment and the type of stuff police officers do around here,” Hardy said.
Steve Chamberlain, Hardy’s court-appointed attorney, said the situation was one that “got out of hand quickly.”
“It appears to the public that this (the use of a taser) was an over-use of force,” Chamberlain said. “But I think everybody needs to take a step back and learn something from this. If everybody would have acted more civilly we wouldn’t have this problem today.”
He said the sentence recommended by the state for his client was “more than reasonable.”
Hardy’s case was the subject of a press conference staged by the Lima chapter of the NAACP, during which the subject of excessive police force was raised.
Lima City Council also addressed the incident shortly after it happened. Hardy attended the council meeting with NAACP Lima Chapter President Ron Fails and NAACP committee member Ray Magnus but did not make any public comment.