LIMA — Lima NAACP President Ron Fails criticized the Lima Police Department on Saturday while presenting three men he said were the victims of police brutality.
Fails also called for the termination of two officers whose names continue to appear in complaints of excessive force.
“We are demanding justice and justice now,” Fails said.
One case involves two men leaving the area of a shooting on their way to the hospital just before 3 a.m. Jan. 15, at a high rate of speed. Officers saw the speeding vehicle and attempted to make a stop. The men, Michael Rogers Sr. and Jlee Grant, both of Lima, admit they didn’t stop but said they had a good reasons: Rogers’ daughter was reportedly shot and taken to the hospital. It later turned out she was not.
The men said when they got out of the vehicle officers confronted them. The 47-year-old Rogers said he yelled his daughter was shot as he ran toward the emergency room. He said police officers tackled him breaking a couple of ribs.
Grant, 33, said a police dog attacked him as he was on the ground complying with the commands of an officer.
Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin was contacted at his home Saturday and did not have police reports to look at. Martin said he is aware of the incident and a complaint made concerning it. He said there was an ongoing investigation.
Martin said from what he has heard, so far, officers acted appropriately and did exactly what they were required. He said officers were responding to a shooting scene, unaware of exactly what happened or what each person’s role was. On the way to the scene, officers spotted a vehicle driving away from that scene at a high rate of speed so they attempted to stop it.
The vehicle would not stop until it got to the hospital, he said. As soon as it stops, two unknown men get out, one of the men, who officers later learned was Rogers, took off running. Officers did not know if Rogers was the gunman from the shooting or what role he played, and he was not stopping for officers, Martin said.
“Based on what Mr. Rogers said it sounds like the officers were doing exactly what is expected of them and to protect the innocent members of the community from what is best known to them at the time as a potential gun threat,” Martin said. “The officers cannot assume everything is good. He was actively trying to flee from them.”
Rogers, who drove the vehicle, said he was charged with failure to comply with the signal of a police officer and his case was pending. Grant said he was not charged.
Fails said the officers never wrote about Grant in their report. He also said two of the officers involved, Mark Frysinger and Aaron Montgomery, both have a history of excessive force and he has accused both of excessive force in the recent past.
Martin said the case will fully be investigated and he also fired back at Fails, who he said speaks of wanting to do something to curb violence in the community but offers no plans. He said Fails is all talk.
“He keeps holding press conferences but I have yet to see a press conference with him and his colleagues identifying what they are going to do to curb gun violence,” Martin said.
Fails said this case is another example of police officers targeting members of the black community, especially black men, but Martin said that is ludicrous. Martin said when a vehicle is driving away from the scene of a shooting at a high rate of speed and refusing to stop, officers are going to pursue the vehicle and whomever is in it.
The third man at the news conference, Javaris Newton, 25, of Lima, said he was walking down the street Sept. 19, when Montgomery told him to stop and arrested him for no reason. He said Montgomery choked him. He said he was taken to the police station where Montgomery continued to assault him. He said the abuse at the Police Department was caught on video camera.
Newton said a prosecutor dismissed the case and Montgomery was at court screaming at him upset over what prosecutors did.
Martin said he was unaware of the incident with Newton.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.