New Year’s Eve investigation not yet complete
- Published: February 13, 2017
At a specially called Village Council meeting to hear the results of the independent investigation of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop incident between local police and villagers, David Williamson, the Dayton attorney who is performing the investigation, said that the report is not yet finished.
“My practice is to be precise, complete and accurate, and I don’t think we’re there yet,” he told the crowd of about 80 villagers who had gathered in the Bryan Center gym.
Williamson said that he and an assistant have spent much of the past month gathering information, including interviewing about 30 people who were at the event and all of the police officers involved, reviewing cell phone videos of the event along with police cruiser cameras and body cams of officers from other jurisdictions who were called in by local police.
Because the report was not finished, the meeting mainly provided a time for citizens to address Council members and Williamson regarding the New Year’s Eve incident or other concerns regarding local policing. Several were disappointed that the investigation had not come to conclusion.
“Every time we meet, fewer people will show up,” said Ken Odiorne. “It erodes the quality of the conversation and the value of the investigation.”
The meeting to discuss the investigation results had been postponed from Jan. 30, when the results were originally to be made available. According to Williamson, he had informed Council on Friday that he wouldn’t be able to produce a final report for tonight.
Several pressed Williamson regarding the cost to the Village of the investigation, and in response, he said he could not estimate the number of hours he’s worked so far.
“This is not an expense anyone is happy about,” said Council President Karen Wintrow. “We felt the importance of having an independent investigation outweighed budgetary concerns.”
The incident took place on New Year’s Eve downtown, when at the traditional Ball Drop, four officers attempted to disperse villagers by driving cruisers through the crowd with sirens blaring. Tensions rose as an officer chased a young man through the crowd and tackled him to the ground while another officer attempted to tase him. The man, David Carlson, was charged with obstructing official business, a fifth-degree felony.
“I’ve never been so afraid in my own village,” said longtime resident Anita Brown of the incident.
Williamson stated that he would not be making recommendations regarding discipline or employment of officers but rather would focus on the New Year’s Eve event, including such questions as whether more resources are needed to maintain order.
But the problem isn’t the event, according to Chrissy Cruz.
“We’ve had the ball drop for many years and it’s not broken,” she said. “What’s broken is the police department.”
In response to a question from Attorney Laura Curliss, who is representing Carlson, Williamson said he is not clear whether he is expected to make a determination regarding whether excessive force was used by police. He will be speaking soon with Village Manager Patti Bates to clarify the expectations.
Several villagers stated that Council needs to put a deadline on how long the investigation continues, and Council members agreed.
“Citizens are right. There needs to be a deadline,” Wintrow said. In response to her request that a report be complete by Council’s next regular meeting, on Feb. 21, Williamson he would do his best. Council members agreed that the March 6 Council meeting would be the final deadline for the investigation report.
See the Feb. 16 News for a more detailed story on the meeting.