The village police sergeant who was disciplined and suspended for using physical force to remove a camera from a disabled resident is now facing criminal charges and has been placed on administrative leave with pay, according to the village manager.
Sgt. Naomi Penrod has been charged with assault, disorderly conduct and interfering with civil rights, according to the village. All of the violations are misdemeanors. The assault and civil rights violations carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail or $1,000 fine or both. Disorderly conduct has a maximum penalty of a $150 fine.
The case is being adjudicated in Xenia Municipal Court, according to the village, and the case has been assigned to a special prosecutor, City of Springfield Chief Prosecutor Marc Ross.
On Monday, Penrod was placed on administrative leave with pay after the charges were filed according to Yellow Springs Village Manager Patti Bates, who said in a written statement, “There will be no further comment from the Village at this time.”
Penrod will remain on paid leave until the criminal case has been resolved.
“Now that an independent investigation and special prosecutor have determined the filing of criminal charges is appropriate, we must wait for the resolution of the criminal process and the Village has a legal obligation to ensure the administrative due process rights of its employee are respected,” Bates wrote. “The Village also has a duty to balance the public’s and the officer’s welfare.”
Penrod could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The village resident who filed the complaint against Penrod, Athena Fannin, said she was grateful she got “justice” in this incident.
“I’m happy because this incident really really hurt my family and hurt our lives,” Fannin said. “It’s a major step towards healing. But it’s not just a step toward healing for me, I think it’s an important step toward healing for all of the areas that need to make improvement in policing in the community.”
The criminal charges filed came two months after the Yellow Springs Village Police Department requested, in a letter dated Nov. 24, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office conduct a criminal investigation into the incident with Penrod and Fannin.
The law enforcement department made the request after Fannin reported Penrod twisted her wrists and took the camera from her hands outside Fannin’s Allen Street home on Nov. 5. Fanning was taping police activity at the time of the incident.
Yellow Springs Police Chief David Hale immediately conducted a two-week investigation after Fannin reported the incident. He determined that Penrod committed three violations: taking the camera “in a situation clearly not called for,” being discourteous to the public and escalating a situation.
At that time, Hale said Penrod was not placed on administrative leave because there was nothing derogatory in her personnel file. However, the village manager later acknowledge other complaints had been made against Penrod but were not included in her personnel record.
“The fact that the previous incidents noted herein are not in your file is problematic of a system that will change during my tenure,” Bates wrote in a three-page letter disciplining Penrod dated Dec. 16.
In the same letter, Bates also wrote she would have imposed “more stringent sanctions” if it were within her authority to do so.
“… Your inability to control your actions seems to be a recurring and unacceptable pattern.”
As part of the disciplinary action issued Penrod was suspended without pay for three days. She was required to serve two suspension days within the subsequent two pay periods and is also subject to a six-month “performance improvement period.” If she successfully completes the performance improvement period, she will not have to serve the third suspension day.
The village confirmed Penrod has completed the two-day suspension.