Ruth Leonard, a candidate for Toledo Board of Education, was charged with disorderly conduct by Toledo police after an incident in which a passenger in her car allegedly yelled an obscenity to police out the window.
The Wednesday incident threatens to cost her the endorsement of the Lucas County Democratic Party in the Nov. 7 election.
Ms. Leonard, 30, a former librarian in a Toledo charter school, is accused in the police report of hitting her brakes quickly and nearly causing an accident while passing by police officers who were making an unrelated stop at Dorr Street and Lawrence Avenue.
The person riding with her — Julian Mack, 33, who has the same address on Joffre Avenue as she, according to Ohio voter registration records — is accused in a separate summons of yelling out the car window, “[Expletive] the police.” According to the summons, Mr. Mack shouted as the vehicle sped by the officer, almost causing an accident with other moving vehicles.
The state's disorderly conduct statute forbids recklessly inconveniencing any person through an "offensively coarse utterance" or insulting under circumstances that would likely provoke a violent response.
Ms. Leonard is charged with disorderly conduct that creates a risk of harm to persons or property. Mr. Mack is charged with disorderly conduct involving an offensive utterance.
Neither Ms. Leonard nor Mr. Mack returned a phone call seeking comment.
Both are scheduled for arraignment at 1 p.m. Sept. 29 in Toledo Municipal Court.
A video apparently taken by Mr. Mack and posted live on Facebook at about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday shows the events inside the car after the car was stopped. The officer repeatedly urges the two occupants to admit they nearly caused an accident and that Mr. Mack shouted “[Expletive] the police” out the car window while they were driving on Dorr.
Mr. Mack tells the officer, “I didn’t do anything.” He hands the phone to Ms. Leonard saying, “take this, baby,” while he gets out of the car at the request of the police officer. Back in the car, he says to the phone, “as I said before, [expletive] the police” and “black lives matter.”
In the recording, the officer is heard telling Ms. Leonard that she would be let off with a warning. It was not clear why she received a summons for a misdemeanor charge.
Lucas County Democratic Chairman Joshua Hughes said Ms. Leonard is innocent unless proven otherwise.
“If, however, proven to be true, that’s very concerning to me both as a lawyer and chairman of the party,” Mr. Hughes said. He said it is possible that Ms. Leonard would lose the party’s endorsement and said it is likely to be discussed at the party’s executive committee meeting Oct. 2.
“It’s concerning because not only in Toledo but everywhere we put a lot of faith and reliance on our police officers. I don’t believe there to be a situation in which it’s OK to create a situation in which you’re placing other citizens and the police in danger,” Mr. Hughes said.
He also said Ms. Leonard assured him several weeks ago that Mr. Mack was “no longer associated with the campaign or had anything to do with the campaign.” He did not give a reason why Mr. Mack’s affiliation with the campaign would be a concern to the Democratic Party.
Ms. Leonard and Mr. Mack were both involved in leading a rally and march at the University of Toledo on Aug. 20 to condemn white supremacy.
Ms. Leonard is one of four candidates for three seats on the Toledo school board. The other three candidates are incumbents Polly Taylor-Gerken, Bob Vasquez, and Christine Varwig. Ms. Taylor-Gerken and Mr. Vasquez are also endorsed Democrats. Ms. Varwig is an unendorsed Democrat.
According to her profile on the professional network site LinkedIn, Ms. Leonard is a graduate of Bowie State University in child behavioral psychology and worked as a library technician specialist at Winterfield Venture Academy charter school.
A Winterfield spokesman said she did not return to school this fall.
Staff writers Ryan Dunn and Allison Reamer contributed to this report.
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