Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Warren Co. disputes cop force claims

Deputies did their best, officials say

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Warren County officials Tuesday disputed claims that two deputies used excessive force and improperly entered a residence to arrest a suspect in Deerfield Township on New Year's Day.

        A report released by the sheriff concluded that Sgt. Brandon Lacy and Deputy Chris Peters used “appropriate” force when they wrestled Jody Harris to the floor at his brother's Chestnut Drive home and that they made a legal arrest.

        Sheriff's officials conducted an internal investigation after Jody Harris' brother, Jack, complained that deputies damaged his home and abused his brother during the arrest.

        At the time, police were acting on a tip to the county communications center that Jody Harris, who was wanted on two misdemeanor warrants, was at his brother's house.

        The report, written by Capt. Gary Miller, said there were no physical injuries to Jody Harris to support claims that the deputies slammed his head into a wall hard enough to crush the drywall, and punched him in the head after he was restrained.

        A jail nurse observed no serious injuries when she checked Jody Harris shortly after his arrest, Capt. Miller wrote. He added that Jody Harris acknowledged that he was injured days earlier in a car crash.

        In addition, Capt. Miller said it appeared that the damage to the wall occurred at another time.

        “Taking into account Jody Harris' statement, hanging coats, and lack of drywall residue, I believe it would have been difficult for this damage to occur at the time of arrest,” Capt. Miller wrote.

        The report didn't address allegations that deputies did not identify themselves before entering the house.

        But Capt. Miller told the Enquirer on Tuesday that Jody Harris' statement to police indicated that occupants of the house had seen police outside through a window before his brother went to the door.

        The report upset Jack Harris' wife, Julia, who said the family may file a civil rights lawsuit over the incident.

        “Nobody wants to acknowledge that they did anything wrong,” she said.


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