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Penrod faces criminal charges

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Yellow Springs Sergeant Naomi Penrod was charged in Xenia Municipal Court on Monday with three misdemeanors related to an altercation she had with a village resident in November. The criminal charges include interfering with civil rights, assault and disorderly conduct, and resulted from a call for service on Nov. 5 in which Penrod wrestled a video camera from a resident who was attempting to record police actions.

Due to the criminal proceedings, the Village placed Penrod on paid administrative leave until the legal matter is resolved, Village Manager Patti Bates wrote in a press release on Monday.

“Now that an independent investigation and special prosecutor have determined the filing of criminal charges is appropriate, we must wait for the resolution of the criminal process,” the release states.

The charges were filed in Xenia by Springfield City Prosecutor Marc Ross, after the Clark County Sheriff’s Department completed an independent investigation of the complaint against Penrod. Ross’s office declined on Monday to comment on his findings.

Penrod was scheduled to be arraigned in Xenia on Wednesday morning, Jan. 28, to enter a plea. According to a court official, the legal process could take up to six months, including 30 days to set a pretrial hearing before scheduling either a jury or a bench trial, whichever Penrod elects.
The maximum sentence for each of the first degree misdemeanors of assault and civil rights violation is six months jail time and up to $1,000 in fines. The maximum penalty for the minor misdemeanor offense of disorderly conduct is a $150 fine.

Penrod could not be reached for comment this week.

Athena Fannin, the resident who was involved in the Nov. 5 incident, said this week that she felt overwhelming relief and gratitude that her experience has a chance to make much needed change in the law enforcement culture that for too long has not been held accountable. Fannin is undecided about pursuing damages for the lost income and emotional stress the incident caused her family and is focused instead on ensuring that the village is a safe place for its citizens.

“I want this to be about changing a system that allowed Officer Penrod to get this far,” Fannin said. “We’re looking forward to more safety and stability.”

Prior to the criminal investigation, the Village completed its own internal investigation of Fannin’s complaint. With the help of an outside hearing officer from the Enon Police Department, in December the Village found that Penrod had committed two counts of improper conduct, including forcibly taking Fannin’s camera and exhibiting hostility without cause. After the findings the Village placed Penrod on a two- to three-day unpaid suspension and imposed a six-month behavior improvement plan.

“From the beginning, our handling of the Penrod matter has been thorough and transparent,” Bates wrote in this week’s release. “We have duties to be fair to all Village employees while simultaneously being accountable to the community. I believe those duties have been met.”

The Nov. 5 incident began when Penrod and two other Yellow Springs officers (one in training) were called as peace officers to Fannin’s High Street home, where she began video recording police actions to ensure their legitimacy. According to Fannin, Penrod told her not to record and then twisted her arms in order to confiscate the camera. A three-second clip of the scene was recorded and shared widely on social media.


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