BUS drops support for alumnus

Black United Students has dropped its support of a complaint of police brutality Jan. 7 at College Towers. Alumnus Rick Rucker claimed Kent police used excessive force at his birthday party.

BUS said the decision came after it received new information on the incident.

911 Calls

Transcript of 911 calls made from Rick

Rucker’s apartment Jan. 7, 2007.

Jan. 7, 2007

2:45 a.m.

Channel 3

Operator 1: Kent 911. Where’s your emergency?

Caller 1: Yes, man, we’ve got police up here. Brutality, people.

Operator 1: At Rhodes Road?

Caller 1: Yes, at Rhodes Road.

Operator 1: Are you in 670?

Caller 1: Yes, at Kent … at College Towers.

Operator 1: College Towers? You need to go speak with one of the officers.

Caller 1: No, they’re not listening to us. They’re brutaliting us.

Operator 1: You need to talk to the officers when they’re there.

Caller 1: They won’t let us talk to us here. And they just came in just spraying people with Mace for no reason.

Operator 1: OK, well, if you want to make a complaint you need to come down to the police department.

Caller 1: OK, I will.

Operator 1: OK.

Jan. 7, 2007

2:45 a.m.

Channel 2

Operator 2: Kent 911. Where’s your emergency?

Caller 2: Yes, I want to report police brutality.

Operator 2: OK, where are you, at College Towers?

Caller 2: Yes.

Operator 2: OK, sir, if you need to make a report against an officer, you have to come down here to the police department. But since the officers are there, you can speak to them.

Caller 2: But the officers ain’t speaking to anybody. There’s a bunch of people, they’re spraying Mace.

Operator 2: OK, well, sir, if you need to speak to an officer, the lieutenant is out there. You can talk to him or you can come down here to the police department and make a report at that time with the lieutenant.

Caller 2: OK.

Operator 2: OK?

Caller 2: (Coughing in background) OK.

Operator 2: Thank you.

BUS president Sasha Parker had spoken with Dean of Students Greg Jarvie, who often works as a liaison between the university and the city of Kent.

After speaking with Jarvie, Parker said she was persuaded that a police officer was picked up by a person inside Rucker’s apartment and thrown into the hallway, which may have prompted the use of force by police.

Jarvie was not available for comment last night.

Parker said she no longer considers the force police used as “excessive.”

“What happened is the lesser of what could have happened,” Parker said. “It could have escalated to someone being shot.”

Rucker was made aware of this development after last night’s BUS meeting. He said he was upset to hear this version and stands by his accusation of police brutality.

“Everyone who I asked said that’s an absolute lie,” Rucker said. “It’s absurd.”

Rucker was under arrest and outside his apartment when the violence against the police officer was said to occur.

Rucker said he has begun the process of filing a formal complaint through the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“It’s really just the beginning stages,” Rucker said. “I have to get statements from everyone who was at the party and witnessed what happened and send it back to the NAACP before anything really happens.”

He said support from important organization leaders has been overwhelming, and he has also been in contact with employees at the Cleveland office of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Shanelle Smith, president of the Kent branch of the NAACP, said Rucker’s complaint was not the first one of its type filed by students at Kent State, so she supports him and any other student who feels he or she was treated badly by Kent police.

Smith said she has helped Rucker by giving him the resources needed to properly file a complaint with the national branch of the NAACP.

“The Kent branch really just points people in the right direction,” she said. “As far as how the complaint is processing so far, that is personal information between Rick and the national branch.”

Rucker isn’t the only one who has made serious claims against the police.

Youngstown State student Christina Danko filed a formal complaint against an officer at the scene for sexual harassment.

“I was in the kitchen, and when Rick got pushed I went by the door. One cop pushed into everyone, and as he walked by me his hand grazed across my chest, and he grabbed it,” Danko said. “He had no reason to do that because I was out of his way. I had moved out of his way.”

Two days later, 19-year-old Danko and 19-year-old Tina Winborn went to the police station to file their complaints. Danko said she was met with anything but concern.

She said when she told the on-duty supervisor what happened, he laughed at her and asked why an officer would do something like that.

Danko responded by saying, “That’s what I would like to know.”

Capt. Greg Urchek of the Kent City Police Department said that kind of response is not the kind Kent officers typically have in accusations of sexual misconduct, and after a written complaint is filed, it is reviewed before further investigation begins.

“If there is substance to the complaint, as in this case, we look into the matter by taking witness statements and interviewing everyone who was involved,” he said.

Urchek said the police department would like to give its version of the events of that night eventually, but because of the investigation he was unable to comment further.

He said both the sexual harassment and the police brutality claims are being handled together and are not being taken lightly.

“Anytime there are matters of this nature against the department, we take it very seriously,” he said. “I know saying no comment makes us sound guilty to outsiders, but you have to understand that the time will come to tell our side, and that time isn’t now.”

Two 911 calls were placed from Rucker’s birthday party Jan 7. Kevin Conwell, senior journalism and mass communications major, said he feared the situation was getting too out of hand so he hid in a closet and dialed for additional help.

“I called 911 because I was just in disbelief. I told them I was calling to make a report on the police, but they told me I had to come down to the station to handle that,” he said.

Kent City Police Capt. Michelle Lee said making a complaint in person is standard procedure and the dispatchers don’t take them over the phone.

Urchek said the dispatcher took the call as an officer complaint and followed proper policy.

“To be honest, we’ve never had a 911 call like that, so it probably took her by surprise. I thought she responded accurately,” he said.

Conwell said even though he was able to talk to an officer, when he tried to file a complaint that night he, as well as others, were turned away.

“I think I was the only one to talk to someone because I slipped out and went alone. I was the first one there,” he said. “They told me I’d have to come back at a different time to make the complaint, but I am always at work. I still haven’t done it because I didn’t know if it was too late. I think others feel the same way.”

Lee, who is in charge of the pending investigation, said she hopes for it to be wrapped up by next week.

Contact public affairs reporter Elise Franco at [email protected].

Contact minority affairs reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected].