Report: Dayton police officers cleared after Tasing, punching suspect

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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A Dayton police internal investigation is underway into a July 2018 incident during which a suspect was Tased inside a police cruiser and later struck at least two dozen times by four officers, cruiser cam video shows. The suspect, 27-year-old Devin L. Washington, was being detained on July 12 in ...

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

All four Dayton police officers who delivered Tasings and more than three dozen punches to a suspect last summer were exonerated, according to an internal review obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

Devin Washington was recently sentenced to a year in prison for three different cases, including the incident in which he was Tased inside a cruiser and later Tased and punched when officers said the 5-foot-9, 130-pound suspect resisted.

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“After reviewing all of the evidence in this investigation, I have come to the following conclusion: I find that there is SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE that the actions of Officers Zachary Banks, Andrew Lane, Florijan Urekar, and Kyle Harris were justified, proper and in compliance with the policies of the Dayton Police Department,” Dayton police Det. Daryl Smith wrote in a 12-page findings letter aside from a 128-page Professional Standards Bureau report. “Therefore, they are EXONERATED of any wrongdoing in this investigation.”

Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl said: “The findings are a result of a thorough investigation by the experienced detectives in our Professional Standards Bureau. I signed the outcome in agreement with their determination that the officers involved acted within the policies of the Dayton Police Department.”

Cruiser-cam video obtained by this news organization showed the July 12, 2018, incident continued after Washington, 27, was being detained un-cuffed in the back of a cruiser as officers searched a car Washington had been operating on Harriet Street.

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Police had separated Washington and a woman who had been in a car nearby; records indicate police were sent to the scene when callers reported a couple was fighting in a vehicle.

The video and audio shows one officer asked another what Washington was doing in the back of the cruiser and another answers, “He’s trying to get out.”

After several verbal exchanges, an officer tells Washington to “put your back to us” and “you’re going to get pepper-sprayed, dude.” Washington responds, “Sir, please. Sir, please. I don’t want any problems, sir. Just let me chill.”

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Moments later, the video shows the officers then begin attempting to restrain Washington. In the ensuing struggle, one officer uses his Taser, and probes appear to connect with Washington.

Another camera angle shows Washington and three officers tumble toward the ground before a fourth joins. At least three officers are seen appearing to punch Washington and are yelling at him to stop resisting.

“I’d like to think that change is going to happen with the police,” said Washington’s attorney, Carl Goraleski. “I don’t see signs of it yet. This was a good case for change to begin. Maybe it still will.”

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Harris was quoted in the investigation saying Washington kicked him in the lower right shin, that Tasings were not having the desired effect and that his 10-15 strikes to Washington’s abdomen were not fazing the suspect.

“I know we told him multiple times … stop resisting, give us your hands, give us your hands,” Harris said. “You could feel him tense, he was completely tense. For the size he was, it was in my opinion that he was on something. His strength was, in my opinion, extremely unnatural for someone his size.”

The report stated Washington was trying to grab at officers’ gun belts and one’s genitals.

MORE FROM THIS REPORTER: Read other stories by Mark Gokavi

“I started delivering strikes to his face to try, just to try, to get him down on the ground because I didn’t want him to get anything out of anybody’s belt and end up in a shooting situation,” Harris wrote.

“I looked at the video many times, and I didn’t see aggressive behavior initiated by Mr. Washington that warranted the response,” Goraleski said. “He was outnumbered, out-muscled, outgunned, out everything.”

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