AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – A University of Akron Police Lieutenant faces discipline for his actions during an arrest on July 13 that have since been deemed excessive.
University police were called to a location near campus where there was a complaint about a domestic disturbance.
After an initial investigation, the responding officers started to leave the scene when their reports say they were flagged down by the same woman with whom they had just spoken.
Body worn camera video shows officers asking William Johnson Smith to get out of the passenger seat of the car which he does.
But as officers attempt to handcuff him, Smith starts resisting, wrestling with officers who deploy a taser.
One probe of the taser hits Smith, while the other struck another officer in their vest.
With Smith still resisting, he was wrestled to the ground where he was handcuffed, placed in a police department cruiser and taken to the University of Akron Police Station.
During the trip, Smith could be heard on an officer’s body worn camera speaking with someone on his cell phone while he is handcuffed in the back seat.
After getting to the station, Akron Fire Department medics arrived to assess any injuries he may have suffered during the earlier altercation. When Smith exited the police car, University of Akron Police Lieutenant Kevin Kabellar approached to take Smith’s phone.
Smith can he heard telling the officer, “You can’t take my cell phone,” and, “You better have a good lawyer.”
It was then that the lieutenant appeared to grab Smith by his arms, which were handcuffed behind his back, and push Smith back toward the police car.
Kabeller then repeatedly pushed on Smith’s arms, asking “Are you done now? Are you done now?”
Smith was then pulled away from the cruiser and forced to the ground again. The medics immediately objected during which Kabeller told them, “I’m tired of fighting with this (expletive).”
Smith was examined and transported by ambulance to Akron General Hospital. The medics filed a report in which they say “EMS voiced concern for excessive use of force, as patient (Smith) had been compliant and cooperative since EMS had begun assessment.”
A fire department report shows that the lieutenant went to Fire Station 2 to speak with a captain and although he did not want anyone to get in trouble, he wanted someone to have a conversation with the fire medic about “his attitude towards UAPD.”
Smith has since filed two complaints. The first is for the force used to try to handcuff him at the first scene. The second was for the lieutenant’s use of force at the department.
A review concluded that the force used at the scene was warranted but that the use of physical force after lawfully taking away Smith’s phone was not.
“Lieutenant Kabellar’s use of force in this incident falls outside of the University of Akron’s Action Response Policy,” the report reads. “The action of taking Johnson Smith to the ground after his phone had been taken from his possession is not justified.”
Kabellar was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation but was back on his job as of July 29.
A department disciplinary form also criticizes his language while Smith was on the ground at the department, saying “This type of behavior is not appropriate for someone of your rank and falls outside of the expectations of UAPD officer.”
“Furthermore, as a supervisor, you set the example for not only those on your shift, but how our department is viewed by the public and other agencies that we associate and work with,” the form reads.
The lieutenant was ordered to attend a professional counseling session either through he University Employee Assistance Program or through the Safety Forces Center “that focuses on techniques to control your emotions during stressful situations.”
The order gives the lieutenant until Sept. 1 to complete the order or face progressive discipline which may lead to termination.
University of Akron Police Chief Dale Gooding, who signed off on the disciplinary form, declined to go on camera with FOX 8 on Friday to discuss the incident.
He did say that, as of Friday, Kabellar had not completed the counseling requirement.
FOX 8 also made unsuccessful attempts to contact Smith, who was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.