TOLEDO, OH — A bizarre scene was recorded in Toledo involving an officer aiming his Taser at an entire family, including a boy, as they were forced to lay in the middle of the street. According to witnesses, the aggressive encounter originated when a man questioned the way an officer was handling a license plate citation for his neighbor. The man who spoke up, and his entire family, were ripped from their vehicle and threatened with a taser.
Aaron Tatkowski told Toledo News Now that he returned home on Sunday to find his daughter-in-law, Cassandra Meyers, pulled over in a traffic stop on their street by a Washington Township Police officer. Tatkowski witnessed the officer speaking to her in a way that upset him, so he spoke up to the officer about “harassing people for no reason.”
“He hollered for me to get back in my truck, so I got back in my truck,” Tatkowski told reporters. “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, his girlfriend, and his 14-year-old son were all ripped from the vehicle and made to lay down in the street. Tatkowski began to fear for the safety of his family and called out to a witness to begin recording.
The video begins with the encounter already in progress. An adult male, an adult female, and a boy are laying face down in the street with a heavyset officer pointing his taser at them, screaming.
Christine Lipper uploaded the video to YouTube on September 15. Based on what she and others witnessed, she titled the video “Crazy Toledo Cop.”
Neighbors gathered along the quiet street inside the trailer park, dismayed at the heated encounter. One concerned neighbor whispered, “Call a different cop.”
The frazzled officer — identified as Washington Township Police Officer Eric Hart — continued to exchange words with the family he had proned out in the middle of the street.
Lipper briefly described the events on the caption of the video, saying, “The cop pulled somebody over and blocked neighbors driveway, neighbor comes home and asks cop to move vehicle… this is what happens.”
A man called Toledo police to request a different officer on the scene. “Umm yeah we need Toledo police here at 165 Pineridge in Washington Township,” the witness said to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. “We’ve got an officer in distress right now.”
Officer Hart proceeded to pick up Tatkowski by his arms and shove him into the back of his cruiser, emblazoned with the words “Washington Township.”
The officer then turned his attention to the boy. The female suspect screamed, “You had no right to throw him on the ground! You had no right to throw any of us on the ground! All you’re doing is harassing everybody!”
The boy stood up and was escorted to the side of the truck. The officer then craned the female up by her arms, which were handcuffed behind her back.
“Oww! He’s raising my arms up!” she cried in pain, as her limbs were unnaturally extended backwards.
After sitting the woman on the back of her pickup truck, Hart turned his attention toward the witnesses; one in particular who had been on the phone with a police dispatcher.
“Sir, get off the phone,” said the officer. “This is not the city of Toledo and they’re already on their way. Now hang up the phone.”
“What are you afraid of?” the male witness challenged.
The officer then snatched the man’s phone and chucked it to the ground.
“Go! Get out! I don’t need you people…” the officer barked.
“What you’re saying is you don’t need witnesses,” retorted the neighbor, fetching his phone from the ground.
Washington Township is found in Lucas County, Ohio, in the vicinity of Toledo.
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FOLLOWUP: Officer Eric Hart received several weeks of time off for his conduct — with pay. After a relaxing stint of vacation he was put back on the streets to wield power over citizens once again. His superiors claimed that he acted appropriately, given that the family members were not being obedient.
The police department is reachable below for comments on the encounter.