Yellow Springs officer says he recorded police chief: ‘I’m not forcing your hand here’

Yellow Springs Officer Richard Neel, who resigned after pulling a firearm on a driver this past weekend, said he was pressured to quit by the police chief or be fired and said he has the recording to prove it.

Neel shared a recording with the Dayton Daily News. Neel said he used his phone to record the conversation he had Monday with Police Chief Brian Carlson. Sgt. Naomi Watson was also present in the meeting, according to the recording.

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Neel’s resignation came two days after he responded to a hit-skip crash and drew his firearm on an older resident who reportedly struck a vehicle and continued driving to his home, apparently unaware or ignoring Neel’s cruiser following him with lights and sirens on.

Carlson initially said Tuesday morning that Neel’s actions were not in line with department policy. The police chief later retracted the statement, saying without an internal investigation, it’s not clear whether Neel did anything wrong.

Neel said his meeting with Carlson occurred around 6 p.m. Monday,  just prior to the village council meeting, where many residents concerned about the incident were in attendance. Reports indicate the audience cheered when Neel’s resignation was announced during the council meeting.

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Neel said of the recording he provided that the first discernible voice is Carlson, who asks for his sidearm and other gear provided to him by the police department.

The voice identified as Carlson’s said: “Go ahead and sit down. This is, this is heavy. I want to make it as painless as possible.”

“I get it,” Neel said.

“But I got to let you go,” the voice said. “So we got a couple of options here I want to help you with, alright?”

The voice then said, “So what I got here is the official letter from the village manager ... employment by the village of Yellow Springs is hereby terminated ... I want to offer you, without things going in your file, is for you to resign (voice indistinct). It’s totally your call.”

Later, the voice tells Neel: “I just don’t think you like it here.”

“It has nothing to do with that,” Neel said.

“This is totally up to you,” the voice said. “I’m not forcing your hand.”

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Neel said he plans to deliver a letter to Carlson asking for an apology.

“I believe in second chances and opportunities to make things right. We all make mistakes, but lying cannot be looked past,” Neel said of Carlson’s initial statement that he later retracted.

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