Cincinnati police arrest, tasing creates controversy on social media

A video of the arrest of a young male in Clifton has been viewed more than 34,000 times. In it, bystanders accuse officers of unnecessarily tasing the young man.

Apr 20, 2018 at 9:13 am

Cellphone video of Cincinnati Police officers arresting a young male Wednesday on West McMillan Street near the University of Cincinnati and dispersing an angry crowd, who were insisting the male had been tased "for no reason," has been shared more than 1,400 times and viewed more than 34,000 times on Facebook.

The footage triggered anger from police accountability activists and a call from Cincinnati City Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard asking for more information from witnesses.

"There was a young man tased in Clifton yesterday by the Cincinnati Police Department," the post reads. "If you were a witness to that incident, please send an email to [email protected]. Thank you!"

The video begins with the youth on his stomach with two officers handcuffing him. In the background, multiple voices ask officers why they used a Taser on him, claiming he did nothing wrong. 

The incident began when the owner of Duttenhoffer's Books, Kim Steinseik, called police on five juvenile females gathered outside the store. As she left, Steinseik says the teens threatened to beat her up.

The teens left the scene, but when police arrived, they questioned a group of juvenile boys said to be students at nearby Hughes High School gathered outside neighboring Bana Market. One fled, and CPD officials say Officer Michael Smith attempted to Tase him. That attempt was unsuccessful, according to CPD.

A section in CPD's manual on Taser use explicitly forbids use of the weapons on fleeing suspects unless there are other mitigating circumstances.

Smith is now off patrol and on administrative duty pending an internal investigation into his actions, CPD officials say.

The video begins after that initial incident.

"They just tased this little boy for nothing," a female voice says off camera. Another female voice yells as officers search the young man's pocket. More voices off camera join in, one yelling, "He's like, 13, for real."

The situation seems to get more intense as the video goes on.

Two more Cincinnati Police SUVs pull up, and officers emerge and attempt to push the crowd back. Male and female voices are heard yelling. One bystander is heard saying, "You're going to have to beat my ass, for real."

One officer draws his Taser; another draws a club.

At this point in the video, at least seven police cruisers and roughly 20 CPD and University of Cincinnati police officers are visible up and down West McMillan.

At least one other young male is shown in handcuffs later in the footage. 

CityBeat has requested more information about the incident from CPD, including the police report and body camera footage.

CPD released the following statement about the incident.

On Wednesday, April 18, 2018 in the early afternoon, District Five officers responded to the 200 block of West McMillan Street to investigate a group of juveniles threatening a business owner.  Upon arrival, a group of 5 juveniles were located in the vicinity and officers instructed them to stop in order to investigate.  One of the juveniles refused to cooperate with the officer’s instructions and was placed into custody.  A short time later a second juvenile became disorderly and fled on foot. 

District Five Police Officer Michael Smith, attempted to deploy his Taser on the juvenile that fled on foot, but the Taser did not take effect.  Officer Smith took the juvenile to the ground and placed him into custody without further incident. 

After the arrests, a crowd gathered in the area and several individuals used cell phones to record the interaction between the officers and juveniles involved. 

These videos have surfaced on social media sites, generating questions about the incident and what led up to it. 

One male juvenile was arrested and charged with Obstructing Official Business and a second male juvenile was arrested and charged with Obstructing Official Business, Resisting Arrest, and Littering. 

A Menacing report was filed by the local business owner who was threatened and an investigation is being conducted to identify the parties involved.  The Cincinnati Police Department is looking into the actions of the officer(s) involved in this incident. 

The incident is being internally investigated to determine whether (or not) the officers’ actions are within our Department standards and training. Officer Michael Smith has been temporarily assigned to administrative duties and an internal investigation is currently in progress. We are not releasing the body camera footage during this active investigation. 

The Computer Aided Dispatch log and the Menacing report taken for the threat against the business owner are able to be released when available.