Dayton police investigating use of force during July arrest

A Dayton police internal investigation is underway into a July incident during which a suspect was Tased inside a police cruiser and later struck at least two dozen times by four officers, cruiser cam video shows.

The suspect, 27-year-old Devin L. Washington, was being detained on July 12 in the back of a cruiser as officers searched a car Washington had been operating on Harriet Street.

Washington was not in handcuffs in the cruiser. Police had separated he and a woman who had been in a car nearby; records indicate police were sent to the scene when callers reported a couple was fighting in a vehicle.

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“There is an active administrative investigation into this incident, which has also preliminarily been reviewed by the Dayton Police Department Senior Command Staff,” according to a Dayton police prepared statement. “The use of force by officers was reported immediately to supervisors, per policy.”

The July 12 incident report lists the responding Dayton police officers as Zachary Banks, Florijan Urekar, Andrew Lane and Kyle Harris.

Dayton police declined to make any of the officers — who are currently performing their regular duties — available to speak about the incident or address the use of force.

“It’s a messy situation with what I perceive to be a lot of maybe actionable police misbehavior involved in the situation,” said Washington’s criminal defense attorney, Carl Goraleski, “and maybe some wrongdoing on the part of Devin although I don’t know.”

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Washington’s family has hired a different attorney to determine if civil litigation is appropriate.

Dayton police data analyzed by Dr. Richard Stock from the University of Dayton showed use of force by Dayton police is rare, happening in only in slightly more than 1 percent of Dayton police arrests. The review — conducted for the Dayton Community-Police Council — found black residents are 8 percent more likely to be involved in a use-of-force incident in Dayton than whites.

The officers involved in 841 out of the 849 use-of-force cases were exonerated in the investigations, meaning a supervisor determined the use of force was within department policy.

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A video obtained from Dayton police shows the July 12 incident and is among the pieces being reviewed by DPD. Washington was unrestrained in the back of a cruiser, which is parked next to the car Washington had been driving. Then officers on both sides begin jostling him and asking him to get out of the cruiser.

“He doesn’t give them any trouble to go into the cruiser. He’s sitting in the back of the cruiser … and he’s not screaming and yelling or anything, but he’s not sitting still either,” Goraleski said. “He’s fidgeting around a little bit.”

The video and audio shows one officer asked another what Washington was doing in the back of the cruiser and another answers, “He’s trying to get out.”

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After several verbal exchanges, an officer tells Washington to “put your back to us” and “you’re going to get pepper-sprayed, dude.” Washington responds, “Sir, please. Sir, please. I don’t want any problems, sir. Just let me chill.”

Moments later, the video shows the officers then begin attempting to restrain Washington, and in the ensuing struggle, one officer use his Taser and probes appear to connect with Washington. Another camera angle shows Washington and three officers tumble toward the ground before a fourth joins. At least three officers are seen appearing to punch Washington and are yelling at him to stop resisting.

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After the July 12 incident, Washington was indicted on drug possession, resisting arrest and obstructing official business. His trial in that case is scheduled for February.

“After locating illegal drugs in the car operated by Mr. Washington, officers noticed that Mr. Washington was moving around the back seat of the cruiser in an effort to escape the vehicle,” the Dayton police statement reads. “Based on the drugs being located, officers went to handcuff Mr. Washington and he resisted those attempts. A struggle ensued and officers deployed Tasers and physical strikes in an effort to control Mr. Washington.”

The release said both Washington and an officer were taken to hospitals and released.

Washington has had three more police interactions since July 12. On Aug. 7, he was accused of and later indicted on one count of domestic violence.

On Aug. 21, Washington stayed in his Pointview Avenue home when law enforcement came to serve a felony warrant. That led to a 9.5-hour standoff that included SWAT firing tear gas inside the house. Officers found Washington in the attic with cell phones, a bulletproof vest and ammunition.

Goraleski said his client likely didn’t want another physical confrontation with officers after what happened outside the cruiser in July.

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Washington was also arrested in a separate case in connection with the robbery of a pizza delivery driver but he has not been indicted.

Goraleski said Washington had his pelvis crushed in August 2017 and could not have run away as described in the latest incident.


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