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Published: Monday, 10/14/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Washington Twp. officer put on leave returns to job

Review of traffic-stop video finds no wrongdoing

BLADE STAFF

A Washington Township police officer is back on the job after authorities found no wrongdoing on a videotape of a traffic stop that had resulted in him being placed on paid administrative leave.

The tape, viewed more than a million times since it was posted online, depicts an encounter Officer Eric Hart had with at least two people Sept. 15 when he stopped a vehicle at 166 Pine Ridge St. in Raintree Village for having a license registration sticker that appeared to have been altered.

Lucas County Sheriff’s Office performed the review, township Trustee Kenneth Kay said.

In the nearly five-minute video, a woman accused Officer Hart of harassing people and claimed he smashed her cell phone when she tried to call 911.

In a police report, Officer Hart wrote that a man — later identified as Aaron Tatkowski — emerged from another vehicle and told him: “I’m [expletive] sick of you cops. I’m [expletive] sick of you harassing people for no reason.”

Officer Hart wrote in his report that Mr. Tatkowski disobeyed an order to return to his truck. The officer said he pointed his stun gun at Mr. Tatkowski.

Mr. Tatkowski yelled for spectators to videotape the encounter. He was eventually handcuffed on the ground.

The officer wrote he had his gun out and pointed through open vehicle doors.

Cassandra Meyers, a passenger from the vehicle that was stopped, also approached the officer.

Mr. Kay said he was satisfied with the sheriff’s office’s findings and with the police department’s actions. He said he believed the video did not show everything that happened during the incident. “I really feel that the video and the way that people acted over there took things way out of context,” Mr. Kay said. “It made it much worse than things really had to be.”

The officer also works for Toledo Public Schools as a school resource officer, and had been on paid administrative leave pending Washington Township’s inquiry. District Business Manager Jim Gant said TPS received the report late last week, and reinstated the officer Monday.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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