Chief: Dramatic viral video of Colerain arrests leaves out vital context

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A video of a confrontation between a Colerain officer and a woman recording an arrest leaves out crucial context, Chief Mark Denney said Friday night.

"Unfortunately, she caused this entire issue," he said.

In 2015, after a spate of highly publicized and controversial incidents in which unarmed black men died at police officers' hands, many Americans developed a new reflex for dealing with law enforcement: When an officer pulls out the cuffs, they pull out their phone.

Cell phone videos of police interacting with civilians have sparked investigations and even cost some misbehaving officers their jobs. Their first home is often social media, where they build steam by cultivating outrage that eventually nets an official departmental response.

"The only thing that concerns me about them is they're never the full context of what's going on," Denney argued. "I have no issue if they could do it from start to end."

He claimed a lack of context was the issue with a video posted Monday by Facebook user Ok Then Dress, which purported to show one of Denney's officers abusing a woman who attempted to record him arresting suspects outside Spring Hill Shopping Center.

The officer, one of at least three handling suspects at the scene, shouts at the woman to back away while she records the arrests. When she doesn't, he approaches with his hand outstretched. The jostling and shouting that follows -- including a cry of "Stop hitting me!" -- implies chaos and confusion if not outright violence.

The incident report later released by police, which recorded 19 officers involved in the arrest of seven people, shed only a little more light on the situation. According to that report, a confrontation between a deputy and a student at Northwest Passage School became a disruptions that required additional support.

On Friday evening, Denney attempted to clarify. He said the video posted by Ok Then Dress did not depict the entirety of the interaction between the woman who recorded it and the officers on the scene.

"We had three different officers actually walk her out of that scene and tell her where to stand so she could still videotape us and do what she wanted to do and not be in the middle of an arrest situation," he said. "She refused to do that."

He added he believed she had a right to record but not to repeatedly disobey the instructions given to her by officers while they made the arrests.

The officer's response was about more than her refusal to follow orders, Denney said. In chaotic situations, any person approaching officers could be a potential threat.

It makes for unpleasant viewing material, but Denney said he believed his officers handled the incident appropriately and legally according to their training. Ohio law and approved police procedures allow officers to use force to gain compliance with their lawful orders.

"Situations are ugly," he said. "There is no way to arrest someone who doesn't want to be arrested and make it look pretty."

Loraine Warren, 36, Breasina Thomas, 19, and Dalijah Robinson, 18, all face charges of resisting arrest and obstructing official business in connection to the incident Tuesday. Warren and Robinson face an additional charge of disorderly conduct. All three have posted bond. Four juveniles were also arrested.

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