Residents allege excessive force by police officers
When Rick Rucker invited 20 of his friends to his College Towers apartment to celebrate his birthday, he never thought he would end the night sleeping in a jail cell.
At 1:45 a.m. Jan. 7, after many of the guests had already gone home, two Kent city police officers arrived at the apartment after receiving a call about a noise complaint.
Kent police Capt. Michelle Lee said when the two officers made contact with Rucker he was uncooperative, and after they were unable to place him under arrest, the officers called for backup to control the situation.
As a result, Rucker, a 2005 graduate; James Bradley, junior business administration major; Youngstown State alumnus Herbie Jones; junior marketing major Aaron Cephus and Laurence Hall, philosophy grad student were arrested.
Rucker doesn’t agree with the police department’s version of that night’s events. His guests have filed formal civil complaints against the Kent Police Department.
When asked about the complaints Lee said, “There have been some officer complaints filed, but I can’t really say much else about that because of the current investigation by internal affairs.”
Rucker said he “just wanted my friends to come over to my place and have a fun, safe get together for my birthday. When I heard the officers were coming up, I told my friends to turn down the music and be quiet.”
He said his cousin, Charles, answered the door and apologized for the disturbance, but the officers were not forgiving, so Rucker went out to handle the situation.
“I asked what the problem was, and one officer said they were going to issue me a citation,” he said. “I said, ‘Fine, just give it to me, and I’ll send everyone home.’ Instead, he said he didn’t like my attitude and placed me under arrest.”
Rucker said when he turned around the other cop sprayed him with Mace, causing him to fall into his apartment, onto the floor. Several of his guests removed his Mace-covered shirt and put him into the bathtub to try and get the substance out of his eyes.
Bradley said he got involved in the situation when he saw Rucker fall into the apartment.
“I was in the living room, not close to the door, and only went to the door to see what was happening after Rick got w, and I saw an officer push a girl,” he said. “At that point I thought it was getting out of hand.”
Bradley said he put his hands up as he walked to the door to show that he was not a threat, but as he approached, he was sprayed with Mace as well.
“I think they got mad because I was asking the officers for their names,” he said. “The didn’t even arrest me until after I left the party. I was walking to my car to leave, and they asked for my ID, then put me under arrest.”
Rucker said the police didn’t need to use Mace and physical force in the situation because it could have been easily resolved. Because of this, 13 party guests filed formal complaints with the police department.
Rucker could not file a complaint because he was arrested. Instead, he has requested help from the Kent State NAACP and the NAACP at the state level.
“None of this was justified,” he said. “No one else should have been Maced; all they did was ask for the officers’ badge numbers.”
Bradley is also adamant about making sure this type of situation doesn’t happen again. Black United Students called an emergency meeting last night to discuss the matter.
“I think that Kent needs to work on how to do things,” he said. “It just seems like there are a lot of problems. I couldn’t wait to speak with BUS and see if we can find a resolution to this problem.”
Rucker said he knows of other similar situations but has never been involved in one and was shocked when it happened.
“I am not a violent person, and I wasn’t being aggressive at all,” he said. “I feel it was overreaction on their behalf.”
Contact public affairs reporter Elise Franco at [email protected]