Yellow Springs police to undergo special training

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Yellow Springs resident Dave Chappelle spoke at the meeting.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A Yellow Springs police officer involved in a New Year’s Eve altercation has resigned from her position and the city is requiring all officers to undergo special training beginning Wednesday after an independent review showed two officers on duty that night did not properly use their Tasers.

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Allison Saurber resigned from the department Feb. 9, stating the department did not “align with the type of policing” she believed in.

Saurber was cited in the report which was critical of her and another officer’s use of Tasers during their interaction with resident David Carlson at the annual celebration.

“Of greater concern is Officer (Allison) Saurber’s display of her Taser in the crowd in front of the Little Art Theater. …A Taser should never be used for crowd management or crowd dispersal,” the report said.

RELATED: Yellow Springs officer involved in New Year’s incident resigns

The other officer involved, R.J. Hawley, was injured that night and has since been placed on administrative leave pending further review of the incident. Village Manager Patti Bates did not provide an update for what disciplinary action, if any, would follow Hawley.

Village President Karen Wintrop said during a review Monday night of police behavior at this year’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop celebration that all YSPD officers would go through de-escalation training Wednesday.

More than 60 people attended the meeting.

RELATED: Report critical of Yellow Springs police New Year’s response

The 22-page review, filed and presented by Attorney David Williamson, criticized some of the officers’ tactics and offered recommendations to the village on how to prevent similar incidents.

Williamson, along with Attorney Matthew Suellentrop of Bieser, Greer and Landis, were hired by the village to conduct the investigation.

Officers used their cruisers in an attempt to disperse a crowd of revelers taking part the village’s decades-old New Year’s Eve celebration, according to initial reports about the incident.

The crowd, angered by the officers’ decision to break up the event prematurely, resisted.

The consensus from council members was that they were all thankful for the report’s transparency in detailing the events from New Year’s Eve, but that they’re also apologetic for the events having ever taken place.

Council member Gerald Simms told residents who said they felt they were wronged in the incident that “proper justice will be served.”

Council member Marianne MacQueen, who was named in the report for her interactions with Hawley around the time of the Carlson incident, stated that she was charged with two misdemeanor counts from the event.

The report did not find witnesses to support Hawley’s claim that MacQueen tried pinning him in the car.

MacQueen announced the charges were dropped, which drew a round of applause.

RELATED: Interim chief attempts to gain trust

Several residents showed their support for the report’s findings, while asking for stronger regulations on Tasers and more emphasis on community policing. Others expressed support for interim police Chief Brian Carlson.

Carlson was named interim police chief in February after Dave Hale’s resignation. Hale resigned in January in an effort to “heal the rift” between villagers and the police department after the New Year’s Eve incident.

Actor, comedian and Yellow Springs resident Dave Chappelle spoke, urging council to take a “golden opportunity” to prove local governments matter when searching for a new police chief.

“This is an opportunity to show local politics reign supreme,” said Chappelle.

Wintrow said the investigation into the events of New Year’s Eve is still ongoing as they look at possible disciplinary actions for officers involved in the incident.

Williamson and his team will be retained by Yellow Springs to complete the investigation.

RELATED: Hundreds turn out to express concern for response

The legal group interviewed and reviewed statements from Yellow Springs police, former police chiefs, the village manager and 38 residents.

One of the residents, Karen Gardner, said she was pleased at how the report reflected her experiences from that night and how it told a clearer story as to what happened between officer Hawley and Carlson.

Hawley had his Taser in hand when Carlson, 29, reportedly leaned repeatedly into the police cruiser and failed to obey commands.

Carlson reportedly grabbed the Taser and fled with it on foot into the crowd.

Hawley had other options, the report said, noting three other officers in the immediate area. “A radio request for any of them to come to his assistance … would have been the easiest and least obtrusive course to take,” the report said.

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