Accountability is a two-way street, the Lima Chapter of the NAACP and the Lima Police Department need to be reminded.
NAACP president Ron Fails was out of line when he called for citizens to take videos every time they see a police car stopping another vehicle. Such action could end up putting a person in harm’s way should police be contending with a violent criminal.
The Lima Police Department, meanwhile, needed to remove officers Mark Frysinger and Aaron Montgomery from any patrol duties immediately after a citizen’s video surfaced disputing the facts of what they wrote in an arrest report. As is, the city now could face all kinds of liability should a similar situation happen with one of them in the future.
The video contradicts the officers’ report that led to Brittany Osberry being charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing official business, resisting arrest and assault. The incident happened after she arrived at a Pine Street home where police were investigating a drive-by shooting. In his report, Frysinger wrote: “Ms. Osberry exited the vehicle, stating she was going to get relatives out of the house.” He said she then started fighting and screaming at officers. Montgomery’s report backed that up, saying Osberry “was screaming and completely out of control acting as a child would throw a tantrum.”
The citizen’s video shows the officers forcefully pulling her out of the vehicle, not Osberry leaving on her own.
The city prosecutor’s office dropped the charges against Osberry on Tuesday, but left the door open for them to be refiled depending on what the police investigation determines.
Make no mistake, the allegations against Frysinger and Montgomery are serious. A false report leaves the entire department’s credibility open to question, with Fails already claiming the case proves police fabricate incident reports to cover their actions. That’s unfortunate. Of all people, Fails, the head of a civil right group, should understand the unfairness of painting an entire group of people with one brush.
Fails has also said the NAACP has received dozens of complaints about police, “which denotes a pattern of behavior.” Yet when the Lima Police Department has asked him to share the complaints, Fails has not done so.
The investigation of the two officers needs to be done thoroughly, but quickly. The community can suffer if it drags on unnecessarily.