Lima police chief seeks outside investigators in Taco Bell incident

By J Swygart -

LIMA — Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin has reached out to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a probe into an incident at a local fast food restaurant that culminated with one individual being Tased by police.

On Monday, Martin, in response to a press release one day earlier from the president of Fraternal Order of Police Lima Lodge No. 21, said he will seek experts “who do not work for the Lima Police Department and who are not members of FOP Lodge 21 to conduct the investigation on behalf of our community. This is being done to better ensure our community will understand the results of the investigation are valid, regardless of what it may reveal.”

The incident took place when police responded to the Allentown Road Taco Bell around 12:20 a.m. Sunday to a complaint about loud music in the parking lot. They confronted four young black men, and a Taser was used on one of man, identified as Jose Manuel Maldonado.

A video of the incident that appeared on social media prompted Lima councilor Jamie Dixon to issue a statement saying that Martin and Lima Mayor David Berger have ”got some answering to do because this is not how we train our police officers.”

Darrell Ball, president of F.O.P. Lodge No. 21 in Lima, issued a news release Sunday in which he said the officer who deployed his Taser “followed procedures” in doing so.

Ball said that after reviewing departmental reports and viewing a video shot by a bystander at the scene, it was determined “that the use of a Taser by Lima Police Department officers was justified and appropriate given the circumstances.”

Police reports identify Scott Leudeke as the LPD office who discharged his Taser. According to Leudeke’s written narrative of the incident, he believed Maldonado was attempting to retrieve a weapon from his pocket “due to the fact he was fighting with officers and resisting their arrest. I believed he wanted to gain possession of a weapon and try to use it on them.”

Martin on Monday said the investigation into the incident is far from over.

“It is unfortunate that the local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge has chosen to prematurely comment on the incident at Taco Bell. It’s something I’d rather they had not released, but they were certainly within their rights to do so,” the chief said.

Martin stressed that all participants and witnesses have not been yet interviewed “and we’ve got to be careful not to come to any conclusions too quickly. We have to make sure that whatever the outcome of the investigation is, that it was done properly. We have an obligation to ensure the investigation is done with integrity and all sides are being looked at,” the chief said.

He said having outside investigators look into the case should shed insight into whether or not departmental directives were followed.

“People need to be able to trust the outcome of that investigation,” Martin said.

By J Swygart

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