LIMA — A Lima police officer has been suspended for three days without pay following an internal investigation by the Lima Police Department into an incident during which a pregnant Lima woman was wrestled to the ground by officers.
A second policeman involved in the incident was issued a verbal reprimand as a result of the internal probe.
The police department investigation concluded that Patrolmen Matt Boss and Brandon Stephenson failed to follow department policies and procedures related to the use of body microphones during their interactions with the woman.
Police Chief Kevin Martin said Friday that police investigators looking into the actions of Boss and Stephenson found violations of departmental policies when the officers forcefully attempted to take 32-year-old Kenyatta Secession into custody on Sept. 28 at the intersection of Broadway and Vine streets in Lima.
Boss was suspended for three days without pay “based on the determination of Chief Martin that he violated Lima Police Department directive 6.22” by leaving his body mic in his patrol car, “and therefore failed to record activity during the duty-related contact with Ms. Secession,” according to the review of the patrolman’s personnel file.
Stephenson received a verbal reprimand for failing to activate his body mic while backing up Boss during the arrest of Secession.
“We have taken what I believe to be the appropriate action. The violations were not related to the excessive use of force” by the officers that some bystanders had alleged, Martin said Friday.
Secession was approached by the Lima Police Department officers after being recognized for having three outstanding failure-to-appear warrants. A video of the incident was posted to Facebook later that evening and appeared to show Boss and Stephenson wrestling Secession, who was nine months pregnant at the time, to the ground. The video showed Secession being handcuffed by the officers, with at least one of them appearing to put his knee on her back.
Martin, however, on Friday said that after watching the video repeatedly on a large screen, he believes the officer’s knee was not placed on Secession’s back.
“We had officers responding to someone who was actively resisting arrest and who used the lowest level of force necessary” to facilitate the arrest, the chief said.
Local NAACP officials came to the defense of Secession after the incident and demanded that an independent investigator, not the Lima Police Department, lead a probe into the episode. Martin declined that request. In late October, Martin said investigators leading the internal police department probe were attempting to reach out to Secession because “we want her side of the story.”
The chief on Friday said efforts to get Secession to provide her version of the incident to investigators did not materialize.
“Despite multiple attempts to speak to Ms. Secession, she did not make herself available to investigators,” said Martin.
Secession gave birth to a girl Oct. 10, less than two weeks after the incident in question.