Toledo, Ohio area police officer on paid leave after holding a man, his girlfriend, his daughter-in-law, and 14-year-old son on the ground at taser-point.
September 21, 2013

A police officer in Ohio is on paid administrative leave while an investigation is conducted into the circumstances that led him to handcuff three family members -- including a 14-year-old boy -- and hold them on the ground at stun-gunpoint during a routine traffic stop.

According to Washington Township Officer Eric Hart's report, he initially pulled over Cassandra Meyers, 21, after noticing her "altered" license registration sticker, and was cited for a license plate violation.

During the stop, a man later identified as Aaron Tatkowski, who was in another vehicle, stopped and got out of his truck, and according to Hart's report told him, “I’m [expletive] sick of you cops. I’m [expletive] sick of you harassing people for no reason.”

Tatkowski says he didn't like the way the officer was talking to Meyers, so he questioned the officer about his behavior.

"He hollered for me to get back in my truck, so I got back in my truck," Tatkowski said. "Next thing you know, I'm yanked out of the truck and it made my girlfriend say a few things. He yanked her out of the truck."

Tatkowski says the officer threw him, his girlfriend, his daughter-in-law, and 14-year-old son to the ground.

It's at this point that a video of the incident filmed by an eyewitness kicks in, and it continues until Hart orders onlookers to disperse.

Meyers and Tatowski can be heard exchanging words with Hart, and Hart can be seen pointing his stun gun at the family, something he left off the official report.

"It was totally uncalled for, the way [Officer Hart] was using force on people," said Jim Stechschulte, an eyewitness. "I'm sorry to say that, but that's the way it is and if they don't like it, so be it."

Tatkowski was treated on the scene and taken to sn area hospital for treatment of his elbow and knee. According to the police report, Officer Hart received scratches in the struggle. He was treated at the scene.

"He’s not in trouble, but to keep things aboveboard, we put him on administrative leave until an internal investigation is fully complete," Washington Township police Chief Christopher Kaiser said in a statement. "I’m not saying he did anything wrong, but we’re trying to show we’re not trying to sweep this under the rug or cover it up."

Officer Hart also works for Toledo Public Schools as a school resource officer. He was placed on paid administrative leave there on Tuesday, pending Washington’s Township investigation.

Ms. Meyers, 21, was arrested and booked into the Lucas County jail Sunday night for obstructing official business, tampering with evidence, fictitious plates, as well as a tax payment warrant.

On Monday, she was arraigned in Toledo Municipal Court, where she pleaded not guilty, and was released because of overcrowding.

Mr. Tatkowski, 40, was charged with misconduct at an emergency, obstructing official business, and resisting arrest. He too, was arraigned Monday in Toledo Municipal Court, pleaded not guilty, and was released on his own recognizance.

[Toledo Blade], [Channel 11 News]

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