Put-in-Bay officers resign, chief on administrative leave following controversial traffic stop

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PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio (WJW) — Police body camera video has been released from a controversial arrest that led to the resignation of two police officers. 

Put-in-Bay police shared the video that shows nine, mostly black visitors being held at gunpoint, tased, then arrested after a traffic stop on June 6.

In addition to those officer resignations, the police chief is now on administrative leave.

According to the department, two officers pulled over a group of ten people for riding in a golf cart meant for only eight. Officers say they witnessed the driver put what they believed to be drugs in a woman’s pocket and say he intervened as they tried to arrest her.

OFFICER: “Hey, back up, get him, get him in custody….alright turn around.”

DRIVER: “So what I do, what I do, what I do?”

OFFICER: “Get back, get back, get back, get back…get back…you wanna get shot?”

Both officers pull out their weapons as the crowd becomes agitated about the situation.  The bodycam video shows many of them with their hands in the air or recording with their cell phones.

“Put your weapon down, put your weapon down,” pleaded the driver.

The officers call for backup. One man appears to be backing away with his hands in the air when an officer fires his taser.

“Tase him, tase him (taser sound), get on the ground, he’s under arrest,” shouted an officer.

A few seconds later, the man who was driving the golf cart gets tasered too.

“Get him down, he’s been fighting the entire time … get on the ground now…get on the ground, stop resisting,” yells officers.

Lieutenant Mike Russo, who resigned four days later, explained to one man that he felt threatened by the group rushing toward him and his partner.

“I don’t have pepper spray or mace, I have a gun and you make me fear for my life, I’m gonna shoot you!” Lt. Russo explained.

“You would think a traffic stop on a golf cart would be a fairly simple situation. The most concerning thing was how quickly it escalated,” said Put-in -Bay Mayor Jessica Dress.

“You wanna advise these guys and just get them?” Lt. Russo can be heard telling his partner just before the initial stop.

Mayor Dress says investigators will also try to figure out if race was a factor.

“Why they decided to make that decision, it’s the first thing I noticed as well,” she said.

Charges against everyone arrested have been dropped. One of the women was suspected of drug possession, but according to the mayor, no drugs were found at the scene at the time of the incident.

Police Chief Steve Riddle is on paid administrative leave, and two officers, including Lieutenant Russo resigned.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office will help patrol the island this weekend.

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