Elyria police officer under investigation for use of force following controversial arrest

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ELYRIA, Ohio (WJW)- An arrest at the center of controversy… with cameras rolling.  An Elyria police officer has been placed on leave, pending an investigation into his use of force

The officer was responding to a domestic violence call — when the incident was captured on a cell phone.

The suspect’s family says the officer overstepped his bounds.

“It’s not right to hurt somebody and slam somebody’s head to the concrete in front of their mother…a mother should never have to witness what I witnessed as a parent…I get teary-eyed every time I think about it,” said the mother of the suspect, Chanta Rucker.

Rucker says she believes an Elyria police officer overstepped his authority when he handled a call on Tuesday.  Her 21-year old daughter had called the police after getting into an argument with her 18-year-old brother Markese White.

“My son and she got into a little altercation where he was, you know, a little bit aggressive, he said things that he didn’t mean and he walked away…he left and went down the street,” said Rucker.

A Fox 8 viewer sent a cell phone video of when Elyria police arrived on the scene.  The video appears shows the officer choke White and slam his head into the pavement. 

According to a police report, White had threatened his sister, struck her, and then threatened her again with a brake rotor before he was tased.

“They tased my son off the bike, that’s why he got violent in the first place,” said Rucker.

White’s mother says he has mental issues and believes police officers acted inappropriately for the situation.

“I’m just outdone and broken from the whole situation of how things were played out…I feel like, things could have been a little better if officers would have handled it in a proper manner,” said the mother.

A rally is scheduled for Friday evening in support of White and his family.

“We’d like it to be as peaceful as possible, you know, there is “stand up” and we’re standing up for numerous issues, standing up for our youth, standing up for accountability,” said Rucker.

Markese White remains behind bars, charged with numerous offenses including assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, and domestic violence.

We reached out to the police union for a statement. On Friday, we received the following statement from the Elyria Police Patrolman’s Association:

“On September 21, 2021 at 4:50 P.M., Elyria Police Officers were requested to respond to the area of Allen Street and Melvyn Lane in the Westway Gardens Housing Complex. Officers spoke to a victim who reported that they were violently assaulted by a family member. The mother of the suspect warned Officers the suspect had anger issues and would become violent when confronted by police. Officers determined probable cause existed to warrant an arrest.

A short time later, Elyria Officers located the suspect nearby. The suspect was immediately defiant, belligerent, and uncooperative with the Officers. Officers attempted to take the suspect into custody when he became combative. At the same time, Officers were confronted by a large aggressive crowd. The crowd surrounded the Officers and threatened their lives. One of the two Officers was forced to control the crowd while the other Officer attempted to arrest a combative suspect by himself.

This incident was recorded and shared through social media. Elyria Police Officers were observed using physical force to control a combative suspect. The circulating social media posts depict a still image or a brief video clip which are narrow in scope and do not depict the entirety of the incident. Officers attempted to control a violent situation while protecting the family members, including a child, for nearly 15 minutes. It is Departmental policy that anytime an Officer uses force against a citizen that the incident is reviewed and investigated. In this case, the matter was referred to the Lorain County Prosecutor for an independent review. Full transparency is required and necessary for the benefit of the citizens and the Officers involved. As police officers, our primary goals are the protection of life and the maintenance of order. We understand the nature of our profession will often include criticism and a rush to judgement by some. As Elyria Police Officers, we understand that the public demands that we hold ourselves to a higher standard and anything less would be unacceptable. Police Officers have a duty and obligation to the community to protect and serve; unfortunately, on occasion, a criminal’s actions, whether through violence or resistance, require Officers to utilize force to protect themselves and others in the course of a lawful arrest. The laws of our country authorize the police to use force against citizens who refuse to comply with a lawful order given by police officers as long as that force is reasonable and necessary. The Elyria Police Patrolman’s Association asks that the community take a stand against violence and noncompliance used against your police officers during their lawful duties to protect lives and maintain order in the City of Elyria. We are navigating unprecedented times where social media has become an engine of unity or division in this country. We may only see the momentary actions of officers, not the humanity of their response. Together, we are what makes “Elyria strong.”

The Officer that was involved in this incident is a decorated Officer who has dedicated his career to law enforcement with integrity and professionalism, not only to the citizens of Elyria, but the residents of Lorain County. The Officer has been placed on administrative leave while the incident is under investigation. We, the Elyria Police Patrolman’s Association, ask the community, Elyria Police Leadership, Mayor Frank Whitfield and his administration to withhold judgement until all the facts of this case have been investigated. We believe that after a full and fair investigation, the Officer will be found to have acted reasonably “

One long-time Elyria police officer says he would describe the officer as an excellent law enforcement officer.

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