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Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 5/15/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Councilman apologizes to 2 officers over profile issue

Sykes won’t resign; city police official not satisfied

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sykes Sykes
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Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes issued a public apology on Wednesday to the two city police officers who stopped him last month and then were pulled into an internal affairs investigation on potential racial profiling.

“If I have caused any misunderstanding, I sincerely apologize,” Mr. Sykes said during a news conference. “I support our police force. I am apologizing, and I am moving forward.”

Mr. Sykes' accusation that he was stopped April 24 because he is black was deemed “unfounded” by an internal affairs report and a video of the traffic stop, which was released Tuesday, showed inconsistencies with his story. Mr. Sykes sent a letter to police Chief William Moton after the traffic stop claiming he was profiled, which sparked an internal affairs “major-complaint” investigation.

The apology came one day after Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association, said the councilman should resign after the allegations were found to be unsubstantiated.

The public apology was not enough for Mr. Wagner.

“I think he should make that apology personally to both of those officers,” he said. “You don't bring these charges and malign their names doing it in a public forum. I think he needs to be censured by the rest of council if he is not going to resign to show he did not act commensurate with his position as a leader in this city.”

For the second consecutive day, Mr. Sykes claimed that he never mentioned in his letter to Chief Moton that he believed he was “racially profiled,” only that he was “profiled.”

“At no time in my letter to the chief or in this report does it say that this stop was because of racial profiling,” he said. Mr. Sykes did not clarify what kind of profiling he was alleging.

Internal affairs investigators ruled that there was just cause for the traffic stop — Mr. Sykes did not have a front license plate, as required by law, and his back license plate was difficult to read, which is also a violation of state law. The back plate had a plastic cover, which can be seen in the video. Mr. Sykes initially told The Blade that he never had a cover.

“I do not want to put the police in harm's way,” Mr. Sykes said. “[The internal affairs report] clearly says that the officers could not read my license plate and I agree with [the police chief] on this."

During interviews with internal affairs, one of the officers said Mr. Sykes' vehicle windows are tinted and he could not see who was driving or how many people were inside.

Mr. Sykes on Wednesday again said he would not resign.

“I think it is a reaction that is not necessary,” he said. “If you go and read this entire report, we had a nice conversation … someone spun this in the wrong direction. I got my answers and I am happy.”

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.



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