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Yellow Springs officer says he was forced to resign after drawing gun on driver

A Yellow Springs police officer who has resigned from his position says he was forced to resign or be fired after an incident over the weekend that drew concern among residents.

Officer Richard Neel submitted his resignation effective Monday, two days after he drew his firearm on a motorist who failed to stop at a hit-skip crash.

According to Neel, he responded Saturday evening to the report of a Ford Focus being struck in the side by a Chrysler Sebring at Dayton and High streets. The Sebring did not stop at the crash, and the Ford Focus driver followed the Sebring until Neel caught up to them, he said.

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Neel said he got behind the Chrysler but the driver continued and did not stop until it reached a driveway on Meadow Lane.

Neel said the garage door opened and the Chrysler pulled in. He said at that point he drew his firearm, not knowing who was in the vehicle and why it hadn’t stopped.

Neel said he re-holstered the firearm after he saw the driver, whom he said was elderly and didn’t appear to understand what was happening.

“It caught me off-guard how old the guy was,” Neel said. “He didn’t know what was going on when I got out of the car.”

Yellow Springs Police Chief Brian Carlson initially told this newspaper that Neel’s actions were not in-line with department policy, but he retracted that statement later Tuesday.

Carlson said without an internal investigation into the incident, it is not known whether Neel violated department policy.

Carlson released a prepared statement then.

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“After the incident on Saturday, Sept 29, 2018, and prior to an internal investigation of the matter being started, Ofc. Neel chose to resign his position as a police officer with the village of Yellow Springs,” Carlson’s statement reads. “The decision to resign was made by Ofc. Neel after a preliminary review of the incident. Due to Ofc. Neel’s resignation, an internal investigation cannot be properly completed as Ofc. Neel no longer has a duty to participate in the proceedings.”

Neel said he met Carlson on Monday and was told to hand over his firearm.

“He told me that if I didn’t resign, I would be fired,” Neel said.

Neel reached out to this newspaper after its initial report, quoting Carlson that Neel’s actions “were not within policy.”

“The only thing I ever wanted to do in life is be a police officer. I feel they are trying to destroy that … I am not going to have my career end like that,” Neel said.

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When asked for a response about Neel’s claims of being forced to resign, Carlson said “In our meeting Officer Neel chose to resign and I accepted his resignation effective immediately.”

Neel had worked as an officer for Yellow Springs police for about seven months and did not have any disciplinary issues, according to Carlson.

No one was hurt in Saturday’s incident.

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