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David Carlson’s charges from New Years incident reduced

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Last Friday, April 14, David Carlson pled guilty to three counts of disorderly conduct for charges stemming from the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop incident in Yellow Springs. The charges were misdemeanors, reduced from the original fifth-degree felony.

A plea deal with the Greene County Prosecutor’s office reduced the original felony charge of obstructing official business to three counts of disorderly conduct, all fourth-degree misdemeanors. 

Carlson was fined $150 and court costs for each count, which, according to a press release provided afterward by Attorney Laura Curliss, totaled $710. Carlson was also required to successfully complete a “term of probation not to exceed two years,” during which he will be subject to drug and alcohol testing.

Following the sentencing, Carlson, who is black, addressed the court and said he accepts responsibility for his actions on New Year’s Eve and is “truly sorry for his role in the events and for his actions” with regards to the officers involved. He then apologized to Yellow Springs officer RJ Hawley and to the citizens of Yellow Springs.

The charges stemmed from a controversial incident during the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in which Yellow Springs police officers, instructed by Hawley, drove their vehicles through the crowd to disperse revelers shortly after midnight in a manner many villagers found aggressive and threatening. Carlson and Village Council member Marianne MacQueen attempted to engage one of the officers, RJ Hawley, regarding the police actions. MacQueen was charged with a misdemeanor for her involvement, although the charges were later dropped.

An independent investigation of the New Year’s Eve incident, faulted Hawley for aiming a taser at Carlson, who Hawley charged was behaving in a threatening manner, including pinning the officer in his car. Hawley was on injury leave for approximately three weeks following the incident but has been on paid administrative leave since late January. Interim Police Chief Brian Carlson (no relation to David) said last week that he couldn’t comment on Hawley’s status due to ongoing review of the incident but that information regarding disciplinary hearings would be made public as soon as it is available.

Village Manager Patti Bates, who oversees the YSPD, said this week she is likewise unable to talk about disciplinary procedures since the investigation is ongoing, nor could she give a timeline for the investigation and any actions that may result.

“We’re glad that the case was able to be resolved in a way that didn’t result in jail time for David Carlson, which was the Village’s position from the beginning,” Bates said this week.

Two Village Council members previously met with the Greene County Prosecutor’s office and asked that the state dismiss charges against David Carlson, but the prosecutor declined to do so. However, both sides were amendable to the plea deal, Curliss said in an interview this week. As in many criminal cases, Carlson was initially charged with more severe offenses, she said, but charges were “realistically adjusted” as the investigation proceeded.

Last week’s sentence marks the end of Carlson’s case, Curliss said, and “he intends to move on with his life.” Carlson was previously employed as an insurance broker, but he had his license revoked following his arrest. His application would have been denied due to the fact that he was facing felony charges, he said in a brief interview last week, which left him unable to work.

But Carlson’s court costs have been paid “thanks to the generous contributions of villagers,”said Curliss, and Carlson fully intends to comply with all terms of his probation.

“Carlson is a hardworking man,” she said. “There is no reason he shouldn’t have success in his life. He has a very bright future.”

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