LORAIN, Ohio (WJW) — A Lorain woman has a filed a complaint against the city’s police department, claiming officers overstepped their boundaries and harassed her family while trying to question her son and two other teenagers.
The story began to unfold on Feb. 15, after a 16-year-old boy, his cousin and a friend crossed West 27th Street in Lorain and walked up to the boy’s house. Video from the family’s surveillance camera shows an unmarked police car pull up, and a Lorain police officer and a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent jump out and try to speak with the boys. By then, the teens are walking into the home.
The 16-year-old’s mother, Mary Hildreth, was watching from the front door and spoke with the two officers. The 39-year-old Hildreth told FOX 8, “they said ‘we want to talk to them,’ so I said, ‘what’s the problem? Like, I’m the mom, they’re minors.”
Hildreth said the conversation quickly became heated, when the officers told her that they saw the boys jaywalking, and demanded that she provide their names and send them outside. She said they threatened to charge her with obstruction if she did not comply.
Hildreth eventually gave the officers her name and her son’s name, but refused to send the teens outside. She then told the officers that if they did not have a warrant, that she wanted them to leave because they were trespassing. Additional officers arrived and they continued to demand that she send the boys outside.
“I’m the adult who’s here and I’m not going to just send them out to basically a pack of wolves. Right is right and wrong is wrong and the way that things happened that day was absolutely unacceptable and wrong,” she said.
The three teenagers were not charged with a crime, but Hildreth was charged by Lorain police with obstructing official business, a charge that she said she will fight in court.
“I felt like that was just their way to get back at me because I wouldn’t let the boys outside and they couldn’t have their way with the boys and I stood up for them,” said Hildreth.
However, Lorain police maintain there is more to the story than meets the eye. Investigators said the officer and the ATF agent were convinced that the three teens were carrying guns by the way they carried themselves as they walked in the street. Chief Jim McCann told FOX 8 they walked “with one arm to their waist, no movement, no shoulder movement, neither arm swinging and a gait change.”
Hildreth responded, “No, that is just assuming. That is judging a book by its cover and that’s not fair.”
McCann pointed to a shootout between two groups of young men in the same block of West 27th Street in 2022 and a string of other violent crimes as the motivation for the aggressive approach by officers. McCann said the officers had every right to demand to speak with the three teens, but he concedes that when the mother refused, the officers should have sought warrants.
“We can’t make everybody happy. We are there to enforce the rule of law the best way we know how and best way that we can,” said McCann.
Hildreth said she decided to file a formal complaint against Lorain police on principle, after reading how the officers portrayed her as the aggressor in their report.
“I’m like, ‘You know what? This has been going on too long. It’s time to stand up and do what’s right,’” she said.
The Hildreth family is now considering a lawsuit against Lorain police. Meanwhile, the investigative file in the case is being sent to the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office for a complete review.