Colerain officers 'followed procedure' in confrontation shared on Facebook, police chief says

Posted at 3:27 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-11 19:52:42-04

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- The Colerain police chief said officers "followed procedure" in an incident that was recorded in a dramatic Facebook video.

Police arrested seven people at Spring Hill Shopping Center on Tuesday after a student at Northwest Passage School, across the street from the shopping center, became disruptive in class and violent toward a school resource officer, school officials and authorities previously said.

Nineteen officers responded after the resource officer, a Hamilton County deputy, said he needed assistance to break up a fight.

"The state-mandated training for such incidents include, when necessary, pushing back aggressive bystanders who may pose a risk of injury to an officer who has his back turned to the bystander," Colerain police wrote in a news release Thursday.

A video originally posted on Facebook shows officers arresting three struggling, shouting people. The woman recording the video appears to be standing just a few feet from the arresting officers, when one orders her repeatedly to back away.

"I can videotape," she replies.

The officer then steps forward with one hand extended, shouting "You can, but back the **** up!" as the image onscreen jolts violently.

Police released another video of the incident Thursday which shows how close the woman was standing to the officers, including one with his back toward her. The officer ordering her to back up rushes forward and reaches out toward her and appears to make contact with her. The woman backs away down the sidewalk, and the officer continues after her, pulling another woman who is handcuffed.

"He just punched her in her face," the woman recording the new video exclaims.

Police said the close-up perspective and camera movement made the situation appear more violent than it really was. Neither video shows all of the orders the officer gave to the bystander, police said.

Chief Mark Denney said bystanders recording incidents "is a growing issue" and that people risk becoming part of the incident if they don't follow officers' orders. 

"Policing is dangerous work and we are well-trained to minimize potential danger to officers, suspects, and bystanders," Denney said. "That includes keeping crowds a safe distance back, especially when officers are otherwise engaged and unable to track what's happening around them."

Police said that Ohio law and approved police procedures allow officers to use force to gain compliance with their lawful orders.

"The responding officers followed procedure and repeatedly gave clear instructions to the crowd, but the person recording the incident refused to comply," Denney said. "Given the vulnerability inherent in the situation the officers had no choice but to react and ensure the safety of officers and other bystanders."

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 addition charge of disorderly conduct. All three have posted bond. Four juveniles were also arrested.

Protecting officers and others nearby will always be the priority, Denney said.

"People who find themselves near an incident where a police officer is trying to contain a fight or make an arrest should comply with the orders of law enforcement officers, he said. "We have the training and experience to bring these types of incidents to safe conclusions."