COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A viral Facebook clip of a Colerain police officer appearing to manhandle a woman while she recorded him making an arrest was misleading, an internal investigation concluded Wednesday after interviewing witnesses and reviewing other recordings of the incident.
Colerain Police Department investigators found the 34-second clip, which was recorded by 19-year-old Breasina Thomas and posted online by a Facebook user called Ok Then Dess, captured only a small portion of Thomas' interaction with Officer Brian Huntington during a mass arrest near Northwest Passage School.
The clip shows Huntington and other Colerain officers restraining multiple suspects, including a Northwest Passage student who became violent with a Hamilton County deputy as well as that student's family members, whom police said also became confrontational when the boy was led from the school.
Thomas, standing two feet from an arresting officer, is repeatedly ordered by Huntington to back away -- and then, as she fails to do so, to "back the **** up." After several unsuccessful attempts to order her away, he approaches with his hand outstretched and the video dissolves into a jumble of images and overlapping sound, including a cry of "Stop hitting me!" from Thomas.
The video in this post contains profanity.
A police report on the incident found Huntington pushed Thomas but did not strike her; the chaotic final portion of the recording was a consequence of the push and of Thomas' attempt to "slap at his hands while holding the cell phone camera," according to police analysis of another video recorded at the scene.
Another officer led Thomas away and arrested her shortly afterward without incident. She was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing official business.
Chief Mark Denney said three officers had provided Thomas with opportunities to record the arrests from a police-approved location, but she continued to approach at what officers considered an unsafe distance.
"The issue is, we don't know why they are coming close," Denney said May 11. "Most of the time it is with a video camera, but if you look at this tape, there is an officer with his back to her. Now if she decided to wanted to either take his weapon, jump on the back of him…there are all kinds of scenarios that you can play out."
The report ultimately concluded Huntington's use of force was "completely justified" and "the response was the very minimum amount of force available to him."
You can read investigators' full report below: