Home City City officials hold emergency press conference related to viral arrest video

City officials hold emergency press conference related to viral arrest video

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Athens Chief of Police Tom Pyle, Mayor Steve Patterson and Service Safety Director Andrew Stone held an emergency press conference Monday afternoon about a viral video depicting Athens police officers detaining a young African American man.

Around midnight Saturday, the Athens City Police Department (APD) responded to a call from a customer in The J Bar who had been asked by an employee to call the police to handle a patron causing problems for the staff and who kept trying to come back in after being kicked out, Pyle said.

Bar staff pointed out the individual, and when officers approached him, he tried to resist arrest and flee, resulting in an altercation, Pyle said. Pyle refused to describe what the suspect had done to resist arrest or flee, saying that those details could taint a potential jury pool. This altercation is partially depicted in a viral video.

Police detained the man — identified by Pyle as University of Cincinnati student Ty Bealer — using a taser and unarmed force. Bealer was arrested and charged with two counts of obstructing official business, one count of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct by fighting. He was offered EMS treatment for an abrasion on his hand and for a taser barb wound, Pyle said.

A video of the incident went viral Sunday, with some Twitter users speculating that police had detained the wrong individual. Police are very confident they arrested the correct individual because of videos the department has reviewed and the thorough description and identification from J Bar staff, Pyle said. 

Some of the confusion about police detaining the wrong person may come from the fact that Bealer allegedly put a flannel over the shirt he was originally identified in, Pyle said.

One of Bealer’s friends, Zachary Davis, told The Athens News that Bealer never made it inside the bar, and that he was punched in the face by someone who came out of the bar and then ran back inside. 

When Bealer dropped his wallet, a bouncer got “handsy” with him and that’s how the situation started, Davis said.

Social media users also criticized the department’s use of force in the video and claimed that the incident was racially motivated. 

“If it were a white student this would be a completely different situation. We need to hold police officers accountable for what they did to Ty Bealer,” the NAACP at Ohio University tweeted Sunday.

Student Senate President Lydia Ramlo and Black Affairs Commissioner Isabela Gibson released a statement Monday morning condemning the officers’ actions.

“On behalf of Ohio University’s Student Senate, we condemn this discriminatory and brutal behavior and stand with our constituents calling on the Police Departments to release information and a statement about their actions,” the statement said.

Pyle commented on the social media uproar at the conference Monday.

“I’ve seen the social media commentary, and I can say that the commentary is without context and the allegations are completely baseless,” Pyle said.

Three officers were needed to safely arrest Bealer, as evidenced by Bealer’s lack of injuries, Pyle said. He also found that the officers’ use of force was reasonable and within the department’s policy. Additionally, APD has monthly training on updates to use of force guidelines and has a five-person review process over the use of force, Pyle said.

Pyle also said that Bealer was not singled out by the police because of his race.

Police were not wearing body cameras at the time because the cameras the city bought have been back-ordered, Patterson said. APD plans to have officers deployed with body cameras by Dec. 1, Pyle said.

Pyle also stressed that Ohio U had nothing to do with the incident. Ohio University Police Department officers were not present at the arrest and were only called for crowd control later.

Bealer could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

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