DAYTON, OH — A family outing to an airplane museum turned into a horrific nightmare as young children watched their mother and grandmother yanked out of their minivan and forced to their knees at gunpoint.
The Hill family of Columbus had just spent a day at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The group consisted of Alice Hill, 65, her daughter-in-law Wendy Hill, and her two grandchildren Aaron, 8, and Brooke, 5. The kids were on Spring Break and they had taken a short road trip.
As they wrapped up their excursion of showing the children airplanes, the family headed back to their minivan. But young Aaron had never seen so many out-of-state license plates before. He wanted to walk around and look at the different designs. So the excited boy and his grandma walked around the parking lot to check out the cars.
They finished up without incident, hopped in the family minivan, and headed home. They were just outside the base when they were pulled over by “security forces.”
Alice Hill said the stop was terrifying. She immediately witnessed officers coming out of their vehicle with guns aimed at them.
“My grandchildren are screaming,” Alice told WKRC. “I mean they are hysterical, they saw the gun.”
Wendy and Alice were both ordered out out of the front seats at gunpoint and pulled to the street. They were forced to their knees.
“I felt like I was in Mexico, or someplace third world… where they force someone to their knees before they shoot them in the back of the head,” Alice recalled to Dayton Daily News.
The mom and grandma were not only handcuffed and kneeling, but also remained “held down” by burly officers by force.
Wendy explained her reaction: “We didn’t do anything! Are they going to shoot? I was honestly terrified.” She said that the scariest moment was when the security forces started treating the van — which contained only her children — as “full of hostiles.”
“My 5-year-old daughter is asking, ‘Is grandma going to get shot?'” Wendy remembered.
The family was detained for hours. At some point they were told that officers believed their car was stolen. But that wasn’t true. Hours later they were told the real reason for their detainment: their walk around the parking lot.
As grandma Alice and 8-year-old Aaron walked around the parked cars, someone dialed 9-1-1 to report a suspicion of car burglary. Based on no evidence whatsoever, the gun-wielding enforcers gave the innocent family a traumatizing experience they will not soon forget.
The base commander tried to smooth things over with an apology and an offer to let the kids meet the security forces. But that doesn’t seem appealing to the children, who now have a fear of government agents instilled in them which usually isn’t formed until later in life.
“My son doesn’t trust police officers now,” Wendy Hill said. “He views them as the bad guy.”
To say that behavior is acceptable because officers were “just doing their jobs” is a worn-out excuse. Excessive, overwhelming force has practically become the norm for every situation. Even if the minivan contained people who just broke into parked cars, is a guns-drawn response warranted? Is a simple apology enough to fix what was done to this family and these children?
Wright Patterson Air Force Base
CC Cassie Barlow, 88th Airbase Wing Commander
Phone: (513) 257-2131