LIMA — In the wake of a recent arrest in Lima that was captured by a cellphone camera, the Lima unit of the NAACP is calling on residents to take similar action when seeing law enforcement at traffic stops.
On Aug. 10, two officers arrested Brittany Osberry when she was picking up relatives at a residence on Pine Street. On Oct. 27, Lima NAACP President Ronald Fails held a news conference pointing out perceived inconsistencies between the report of officer Mark Frysinger, who, along with fellow officer Aaron Montgomery, arrested Osberry, and a cellphone video that was taken by a bystander.
“We want to talk about the need to have accountability within law enforcement,” Fails said. “Our concern is that the officers involved in the arrest went back and wrote something entirely different than someone we, the public, viewed in the video recording.”
While the internal investigation into the incident is continuing within the Lima Police Department and the charges against Osberry were dropped on Tuesday, Fails maintained that this issue is bigger than one single incident, saying the system “lacks credibility” if people feel they cannot trust the police.
In addition, both officers are still on full active duty, a move with which the NAACP disagrees.
“Until the investigation is complete, take those officers off the street,” Fails said.
Fails called for a more thorough investigation into other arrests those officers have made, as well as the immediate implementation of body cameras in the department. In addition, he is calling for anyone seeing a traffic stop to, while maintaining a safe distance to prevent obstructing the officers, recording the stop with their cellphones to catch any potential mistreatment, a program they are calling Cop Watch.
“We have had dozens of complaints received in our office, which denotes a pattern of behavior,” he said.
Lima Police Department Chief Kevin Martin said, however, that when he asked Fails to produce these complaints so they could be looked into, Fails has not shared them with the department. He also defended the decision to keep the officers on full duty during the investigation.
Taking them off duty “would be asking me to take adverse job action against somebody who has not been found to do anything wrong,” he said. “If they have been found to have done something wrong, that is a different matter and we will take action. But this would be like asking someone to pay a fine before they’re found guilty in court.”
Martin hopes to have the investigation done in a timely manner, but he also wants the investigation conducted thoroughly, he said. He also encourages anyone else who may have information on the Osberry incident to come forward.
“We have some information saying there might potentially be another witness and even another video out there regarding the whole situation, which we are trying to locate.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.