AFRICANGLOBE – Fairfield police officers broke the jaw and three ribs of a 12-year-old girl during an arrest at the Fairfield Aquatic Center last week, her mother says.
Bishop Bobby Hilton denounced those officers at a press conference Tuesday and accused them of using excessive force. Hilton, who is also the president of the Greater Cincinnati chapter of the National Action Network, said he was contacted Friday by the family and asked to represent them in telling their side of the story of what happened June 9.
Two adults and two children were arrested that day on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after cops attacked a family at the city-run pool on Augusta Boulevard. The individuals arrested allegedly refused to leave the premises after one youth was asked to leave because he was allegedly not wearing the proper swimming attire, according to police. Fairfield police contend officers did nothing wrong.
Hilton disputed Fairfield officers account of the incident and showed a video of the family’s encounter captured by someone at the facility.
In the footage, where loud screams are heard throughout, an officer is seen pulling a young girl away from the crowd with his arm around her neck and arm and slams her against a vehicle and pulls her arms behind her back. The girl screams throughout before finally saying, “Ok, Ok.” Another male officer is seen using pepper spray on a young girl who is clinging desperately to an iron gate as a female officer grabs her around the neck in an attempt to dislodge her. The officer can be heard shouting, “Just let go of the gate…Get off the gate.”
The incident is the latest of several across the nation that have called into question the conduct of officers towards Black Americans.
“I never want to be known as one that stands against police officers. I do my best to honor law enforcement as much as I possibly can. When I find there is a controversy between the truth and what individuals are saying, I must stand on the side of truth, no matter where that truth is,” Hilton said.
That day at the pool, Krystal Dixon, 33, took her children and some nieces and nephews to the pool, as they had done for many years. Dixon left and the kids, a total of eight, started swimming.
It was at that point that pool employees stopped one of Dixon’s nephews, saying he did not have proper attire on. Signs posted at the pool state that swimmers must wear proper swim attire. The nephew and Dixon’s daughter called Dixon and informed her they were told to leave. Krystal told the kids she was coming back and had the nephew’s swim trunks with her.
Hilton said it was only the nephew that did not have swimming attire; the other kids did.
When Dixon, who is pregnant, returned to the pool, the kids were “off the property” as had been demanded. Dixon went into the Aquatic Center to find out what was happening. She was told the nephew did not have proper attire, but got in the pool anyway.
“Krystal looks at the young man, and there is not a drop of water on him,” Hilton said. It’s at this point that someone began recording video.
Dixon asked pool staff if she could have her money back and was told no. As she walked toward the pool area to get the kids, an officer attempted to grab Dixon and ask what she was doing. Fairfield police said one of the city’s park rangers was on site at the time. That ranger had handcuffs.
On the video, one of the kids asked, “What are you going to do with that?” The ranger responds, “I’m going to arrest you for not leaving.”
As Dixon was heading back out, a police officer asked her for an ID. Dixon said she didn’t have one, because she was wearing swimming attire. The officer grabbed Dixon by the arm, and that’s when the incident escalated, Hilton said. Multiple officers responded to the scene.
Hilton said a police officer grabbed the 12-year-old female “by the neck, slam her up against a police car, and this young lady, 12 years old, sustained multiple injuries,” Hilton said, though he would not specify what those injuries were.
Dixon told WCPO 9 On Your Side that her daughter sustained a broken jaw and three broken ribs.
Hilton said the video “clearly” shows the 12-year-old not assaulting an officer.
Hilton spoke at the Word Family Life Center, with Krystal and her sister Maya Dixon, of Columbus. Fairfield police arrested both of them, charging them with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Police also arrested two juveniles, charging a 15-year-old boy with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, and charging a 12-year-old girl with assault and resisting arrest.
The Dixons are expected to answer to the trumped up charges in Fairfield Municipal Court Wednesday. One of their attorneys is Clyde Bennett, who represented controversial Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter.
After investigating the case and looking a the video, Bennett said Tuesday it is “crystal clear Ms. Dixion did nothing wrong.”
“People will believe that if the officer tells you to do something, you automatically you must do it in the state of Ohio. The fact is that is not the law in the state of Ohio,” Bennett said. “Resisting arrest is when you resist a lawful arrest, so the police have to have a lawful reason for the arrest … In this case, there was no legal reason whatsoever to arrest Ms. Dixon.”
Bennett added: “If you don’t do anything illegal, and you don’t do anything wrong, then police do not have the right to arrest you. So if the police try to arrest you and that arrest is an unlawful arrest, you can resist actually.”
Bennett said he is not saying that is what happened in the Dixon case, but it is a part of law people do not understand.
Police: Defending Thug Cops
Fairfield Police Chief Mike Dickey has watched the videos shown at the press conference Tuesday, and he said the videos support his contention that the officers did nothing wrong.
“I think those videos only reinforce the statements we made earlier. Our officers were in a difficult situation, and they handled it with restraint,” he said.
Hilton said the officers did not use restraint.
“Where did the officers show a lot of restraint? … This mother wasn’t out of control. She wasn’t over there cursing and refusing to make their kids leave .. she was prevented from leaving. Had that officer not grabbed her at that point, this incident would not have happened. Can police learned how to deescalate instead of escalate situations. This angers me,” he said, his voice rising.
Dickey countered that the videos show officers “being mobbed by individuals while trying to make an arrest after the folks they’re trying to deal with wouldn’t leave as directed … the accusations are not based based on what we’ve seen in the videos.”
The chief also pointed out the videos do not depict the entirety of the incident.
“We do know that some of the stuff that took place that prompted the entire incident was before the mother ever arrived,” he said. The video shown at the press conference begins with Krystal Dixon approaching Aquatic Center staff after she returned to the pool.
Hilton also decried public response to the incident, saying commenters were calling the family “lowdown names. We’re sick of it … now every Black teenager is some scary bugaboo.”
Hilton said this incident doesn’t just affect this family.
“It affects kids all over this county, all over the state, and all over this nation, and it needs to stop,” he said. “That’s why we need community policing reform. That’s why we need criminal justice reform.”
Hilton challenged people to look at the video.
“Please tell me where the kids are acting so bad. Please tell me where this mother, who’s pregnant, is acting so horrible,” he said. “They feed into this narrative that causes this to yet be a divided nation, and we have no business being divided by race.”
Hilton said when officers go to court to testify, “their word has always been taken over and above a defendant’s.
“But we have too many officers lying. Those officers knew these things were being videotaped, and they’re still going to report to you such lies,” he said. “This bothers me. I’m saddened and I’m hurt.”
Dickey said his department will review the incident, as it reviews all incidents regarding use of force.
“Every police officer receives conflict resolution training at the police academy, and every year there is in-service training on various topics … I can’t say we’ve had any kind of specific training of our officers on how to de-escalate in the middle of a fight while you’re trying to settle things down, but if you look at the officers’ conduct objectively, there is every effort being made to get this situation under control,” he said.
Hilton said when the family went back later to the police to make a report, they were told they could not make a report and had to talk to Dickey. It was at that point the family approached Hilton, he said.
When one of the pool’s employees called 911, she said, “They’re videotaping, trying to make it look like a racist thing, and it’s not at all. They were breaking our policies. We told them they couldn’t be here anymore, and it’s really scary and I don’t feel safe.” The employee then begins to break down and cry during the call.
Hilton said he heard the call and “people will look at situations and walk away with their own conclusions. Would she have had the same conclusion if all of them were white? I doubt it.”
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