Ohio deputy given verbal warning for tasing cabbie at Walmart

A Lucas County MP was working on an off duty when he asked the driver to remove the cab from a fire lane and said the driver resisted and drugged him.

TOLEDO, Ohio – A February 2020 internal document from the Lucas County’s Sheriff’s Office describes an off duty alternate interactions with a taxi driver in Walmart on Central Avenue in April 2020, during which the alternate stun gun on the driver and “appeared” Excited “20 seconds after the first contact with the driver, the document says.

A video of the incident recently made the rounds online showing the use of violence / stun guns by a deputy of a Lucas County sheriff.

This MP, referred to as Deputy Jeffrey Bretzloff in the Internal Affairs Document, approaches the taxi driver Lutfi Said Saalim in the Walmart parking lot on Central Avenue. After the taxi driver was asked for a driver’s license, he asked why the officer needed to see a driver’s license. The hall asked several times why he was approached before the officer said he was parked in a no-parking zone.

The video shows that the incident quickly escalated when the driver continued to ask for a reason why he was approached without showing a driver’s license.

Finally, the officer opened the driver’s door and asked him to get out of the car. The driver also asked what he had done wrong when the officer pulled out his stun gun.

After the officer called for help and the driver got out of the car, the officer used the taser to subdue the driver. During the incident, the man asked the officer what he did wrong.

Saalim was then arrested and put in a police vehicle.

After the arrest, the officer searched the cab and said he found two Michigan driver’s licenses. At that point, other officers arrived on site.

Saalim later pleaded guilty to the Sylvania Court.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS

The internal affairs document raises several concerns during an interview with Bretzloff.

The case notes state that the driver addressed the deputy as “sir” and “smiled and on the first contact remained calm and tried to ask you.” [Bretzloff] Ask why you wanted his ID “I will” (give your ID). ”

“Saalim is trying to explain what the Walmart clerk allegedly did to him and you cut him off repeatedly. You seemed excited 20 seconds after the first contact and you raised your voice. Thirty-one seconds after the first contact, you opened his taxi door and put your hands on. Never ask him to get out before you try to remove him. When you put your hands on Saalim, he repeatedly said to hold on. ”

“Forty-five seconds after contact, you pulled your taser and pointed at it; [the driver] had his hands up and you never told him he was under arrest [him] ask what he did wrong? “

“You ordered Saalim out of the car again and asked for support [him] Trying to explain that he was attacked (by the Walmart employee) and asked you to ‘hold on’ with Saalim and say ‘let’s talk’. ”

“At this point you triggered your taser. You said you would feel for Saalim if he didn’t get out of the car. Saalim gave in and got out with his hands raised. Saalim asks repeatedly what he did wrong and around the Place to hold on. ” Saalim turned to you with his hands up and you said, “Stop resisting.” Saalim said: “I do not oppose; I do my job here.”

“You dropped your body camera and tried to be handcuffed [him] with the statement “God damn it.” Saalim looked at you with his hands up. 2-3 feet near [sic] You and you used your taser which resulted in it falling into his vehicle and Saalim saying repeatedly, “What are you doing?” and leave me alone”.

“While he was in the car, you approached the driver’s compartment and drove with Saalim in disbelief when he said call your supervisor.” Run the stunning Saalim with your finger on the trigger for almost 7 seconds as Lt. Hook’s Taser report shows by repeatedly saying “I am a diabetic” and screaming. “

“After the drive has been drugged, Saalim gets out of the vehicle and says I didn’t do anything wrong. He is handcuffed. The first incident in its entirety from the first point of contact with Saalim to the handcuff takes about 2 minutes in total.”

Driver Non-Compliance Report

The report also examines points where Saalim failed to comply with the deputy and notes that when asked to produce a license, he said “I will” but wanted to know the reason. When the driver was asked to get out of the car – after the deputy laid hands on him – he said: Hold on and refused to get out. He refused to get out of the car three times after the deputy told him to do so, the report said.

After Saalim got out of the vehicle, the report said he had not obeyed the deputy’s order to turn around. After the driver turned around, the stun gun was used for the first time, the report said.

REPLIES OF THE DEPUTY

Bretzloff pointed to part of the video showing when the driver turned around and was not holding the car as instructed and said he saw this as a threat. The investigator paused the video to show Bretzloff standing with his hands raised facing the driver with space between the two and Saalim, and then Bretzloff used the stun gun. Bretzloff said he continued to anaesthetize the driver because it initially had no “positive effect” after using the taser and because the driver’s hands moved in such a way that Bretzloff could not numb him.

When asked whether he wanted to think about verbal persuasion or de-escalation, Bretzloff said he initially believed he had used verbal persuasion and said he “probably could have done better” de-escalation. Bretzloff also said the Walmart manager told him the driver threatened him, which led the MPs to “believe” [the driver] could possibly be a violent person, “said the driver actively opposed the arrest.

When asked whether he had told the driver that he was under arrest, Bretzloff said: “I can’t remember hearing myself say that. After just looking at the video for a long time, I didn’t hear myself say it. ”

The investigation also examined the report Bretzloff made after the encounter and found inconsistencies. Bretzloff’s report said he asked the driver to get out of the vehicle and the driver refused. The investigator found that this had not happened. The video showed Bretzloff first placing his hands on the driver. The MP interpreted the video differently “and read his report verbatim”.

The report that Bretzloff made also said that Saalim had got back into his vehicle, although the investigator found that the driver had fallen into the vehicle after being anesthetized. Bretzloff’s report also states that Saalim tried to get away, and Bretzloff said he did not remember it in the report.

Discipline and Results

The investigation found that Bretzloff violated the Lucas County Sheriff’s Use of Force Policy (Rule 37) on February 12. A hearing of the Audit Committee on March 8th confirmed the finding, and Bretzloff was verbally reprimanded as discipline for violating the internal rules.

Assistant Sergeant Andy Ybarra noted in his review as a taser instructor that “it was evident that some form of violence other than lethal violence would be necessary to find a solution” in the encounter between Bretzloff and Saalim. Ybarra cited the driver’s failure to comply with Bretzloff’s requests once the driver got out of the vehicle and failed to comply with the restrictions. He noticed that Saalim continued to actively resist and it was not obvious what Saalim was thinking as he continued to hold back.

“As a single officer with a physically resilient subject and no confirmation (pat down, search incident leading to arrest) for the safety of the officer, the subject and the bystanders, the officer had few options to maintain safety for all,” Ybarra wrote .

SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP POLICE RESPONSE

On Saturday, the Sylvania Municipality Police Department posted a statement on the incident on their social media pages. It is reading:

“We became aware of a video that was distributed on the Internet and that contained an incident of violence / tasing in April 2020. Our police agency was asked to respond as a backup to assist another agency, but our officers were NOT involved in this application of violent incident or subsequent arrest of the subject. We arrived on site after the issue was discussed and handcuffed. A Lucas County sheriff’s deputy was the arrest officer. The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office is aware of this use of force and is conducting an investigation. The MP was disciplined. “

The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office posted a statement on its Facebook page Saturday in which Sheriff Mike Navarre said, “The incident has been fully investigated and the deputy concerned has been disciplined.”

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