This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. to include comments from Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.
Toledo police officers on Thursday flooded the 600 block of North Detroit Avenue during a tense traffic stop that brought nearly 20 residents from their homes, visibly upset with the incident, according to a Facebook Live video streamed by a bystander.
Toledo police say the stop and arrest were valid, while a resident argues police are targeting the wrong people.
Members of the Toledo Police Special Operations bureau initiated a traffic stop at approximately 6:20 p.m. Thursday on a vehicle driven by Ryin Douglas-Reed, 28, of the 900 block of Lindsay Avenue, for a stop sign violation and improper display of license plates. The violation occurred at Detroit Avenue and Vance Street, police said.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING VIDEO CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE
Douglas-Reed pulled into a private driveway. Caprice James, 36, was sitting on her porch during the incident and began recording the video — which had more than 250,000 views by Friday evening — on social media. She said she began recording because she “knew police were going to pull something,” adding police have been targeting people in the area.
She said police pulled Douglas-Reed over because he is African American and he was driving on Vance Street, and it’s “not fair for people who don’t affiliate” with that street, which is known for criminal activity, she said.
“They [police] do racially profile people. They do pick on people based on the color of their skin. I seen it with my own eyes,” she said. “I don’t feel police protect and serve. I have brothers. I would be scared for them to get stopped now.”
Ms. James said several of her neighbors came out and voiced similar opinions, claiming it was bogus for Douglas-Reed to be pulled over for such a violation. She said Douglas-Reed, who is shown holding his hands out the driver’s window, remained calm during the incident while speaking with officers, although she said she could not hear their conversation.
She said she didn’t feel tension from neighbors during the incident and questioned why so many officers showed up at the scene. Not as many officers show up during a homicide or shooting investigation, she pointed out.
“Nobody was threatening them or nothing, but they were speaking their mind,” she said.
Police disagree, and felt the incident could easily have gotten out of hand, said Toledo Police Department spokesman Lt. Kevan Toney.
The officers called for backup and Detroit Avenue was lined with police cruisers. Additional officers were called for the officers’ and citizens’ safety, Lieutenant Toney said.
“When you have upward of 10 to 20 people surrounding your traffic stop, that creates risk to the officers. Area crews responded until the situation was controlled,” the spokesman said. “We always want to back each other up out there.”
Lieutenant Toney said Douglas-Reed was stopped for a valid reason — specifically for a stop sign violation and an improper display of license plates.
Earlier Thursday, the officers involved in the stop executed a narcotics warrant in the 1500 block of Vance Street, where Douglas-Reed’s driving violation allegedly occurred. After that task, they were patrolling nearby areas affected by recent gun violence.
Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz released a statement Friday, saying he watched the video and discussed it with Toledo Police Department Chief George Kral, who was on vacation, members of city council, and other community leaders.
“I understand that some people feel unjustly targeted by law enforcement, and yet I also know that police officers have among the most difficult jobs in America,” he wrote in the statement. “There is plenty of room for an honest exchange of views on how best to police our neighborhoods, but that is only possible if we take the time to talk to each other.”
During Thursday’s stop, a drug dog was called to the scene. Ms. James can be heard in the video, telling the officer to get the dog off her yard.
The officer responds by saying, “I can do whatever I want,” according to the video.
“That’s true and that’s not fair,” she said. “That’s what they say to people.”
Ohio law says officers do not need to provide a reason why police dog is being called to the stop, as long as it is within a reasonable time of the traffic stop, Lieutenant Toney said.
The dog “hit” on the vehicle, indicating there was some form of contraband. A small amount of marijuana shake — not enough to press charges — were found, the department reported. The spokesman said odors may be trapped inside the vehicle’s fabrics, which may alert the dog, according to Lieutenant Toney.
Once the canine alerted on the vehicle, officers ordered Douglas-Reed from the vehicle, and he initially refused. Then, an officer pulled Douglas-Reed from the vehicle, and he began resisting, Lieutenant Toney said.
Douglas-Reed “squared up” with officers and took a “fighting posture,” according to an affidavit filed in Toledo Municipal Court. The man claimed one of the officers swung on him, according to the video.
Officers ordered the man to the ground, though he refused, records show.
Based on the man’s behavior, police would have been justified to use a stun gun on him, but they did not. The man was not injured, the spokesman said.
Police located a loaded firearm inside the center console, according to court documents. Lieutenant Toney said the firearm does not appear to be stolen and investigators are running ballistics tests on the weapon.
“Every day we’re asked what we’re doing to combat gun violence,” Lieutenant Toney said, adding officers were in an area known for gang, drug, and gun activity. “We have an increased presence trying to get guns off the streets. They got one and now their actions are being questioned.”
Toledo police have seized more than 550 firearms since the beginning of the year.
“I see that they are patrolling this area, which is a good thing. They target people though, the wrong people,” Ms. James said. “They should be solving these murders.”
Lieutenant Toney said if members of the community have questions for police or their policies, he encourages them to ask questions. Coffee with a Cop and other events are an opportunity to have community members engage one-on-one with officers, he said.
“Mutual trust between police officers and the community they serve is crucial in making Toledo a safe and livable city,” the mayor wrote in his statement. “Over the upcoming weeks I will be reaching out to community leaders to discuss strategies on how best to build this relationship and work toward the common goal of a safe Toledo.”
Douglas-Reed was arrested and booked in the Lucas County jail on charges of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, resisting arrest, obstructing official business, not yielding the right of way at a stop sign, and for violations involving his seat belt and the display of license plates.
Police said as with all incidents requiring increased actions by officers to affect an arrest, this incident with be reviewed by the involved officers’ command according to Toledo police policy and procedure.
Douglas-Reed appeared Friday in Toledo Municipal Court where bail was set at $15,000, with 10 percent due to the court. He will appear again Monday in court because he does not qualify for a public defender.
In Toledo Municipal Court, Douglas-Reed was found guilty of possessing drugs June 25.
This spring, he was sentenced to a community service probation program for having 33 individual bags of marijuana in December, 2014.
He has also been found guilty of other drug offenses, disorderly conduct, and traffic offenses, according to court records.
In 2017, he pleaded guilty in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to attempt to commit having weapons under disability, a fourth-degree felony, and he was sentenced to community control.
Though Douglas-Reed is a convicted felon, he was not charged with having weapons under disability for Thursday’s incident because his prior conviction does not fall under a qualifying offense of violence, according to Ohio law.
Staff writer Hailey Fuchs contributed.
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