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Ohio Police under investigation for use of force by punching woman in the face

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  • Staff Report 

Two Ohio police officers are under investigation after a video surfaced on social media of an officer punching a Black woman several times in the face outside a McDonald’s. The incident took place on Monday when officers were dispatched to the fast-food restaurant in Butler Township for a “report of a disorderly subject who was upset over a food order,” according to the police chief, John Porter.

The video shows Sergeant Todd Stanley and Officer Tim Zellers detaining Latinka Hancock in the McDonald’s parking lot and Stanley striking Hancock in the face and head. Hancock was taken to the hospital where she spent the night suffering from a busted lip, loose teeth, and a back injury, her lawyer said.

The police chief John Porter said that when police arrived, Hancock had been cooperative but later became highly agitated and refused to identify herself when police asked for her information so they could issue her a trespassing notice. Body camera footage of the incident was released during a news conference. In the footage, Hancock can be seen calmly explaining the situation to the officers regarding her food order and the McDonald’s staff, but the situation begins to escalate when Stanley asks for her name and she refuses.

One of the officers is heard telling Hancock to “calm down” and warning her she’ll go to jail if she refuses to cooperate. After she refuses to identify herself, the officers begin to arrest Hancock, and a struggle among the three ensues. Stanley then punches Hancock in the face and head, police bodycam video shows.

The chief said that the two officers tried to de-escalate the situation with Hancock, noting that Butler Township officers are trained in de-escalation. However, Stanley punched Hancock while Zellers pointed a stun gun at her, according to another video that captured part of the struggle.

The police chief also said that Stanley has been put on paid administrative leave while the department conducts its investigation. If the investigation concludes there was improper conduct, disciplinary actions will be recommended. The case comes as police use of force, particularly against people of color, is under scrutiny nationwide.

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