A Summit Metro Parks ranger has been placed on paid administrative leave after he allegedly placed an elderly couple in handcuffs Wednesday.
According to a statement issued by the Metro Parks, the ranger, identified as Jeffrey Axner in the incident report, pursued the couple's vehicle from the Newton Street entrance of Goodyear Heights Metro Park to their home on Darrow Road.
The couple, Carl ,72, and Margaret Wilson, 72, said the incident occurred when they honked their vehicle's horn at the ranger to move around his vehicle. The ranger stated in the incident report that it was “suspicious” and attempted a traffic stop that ended in the couple's driveway.
"He says get out of the truck, get on the ground," said Carl. "I haven’t done nothing wrong. Blowing the horn? Is that a felony?"
Carl said he asked the ranger why he was being stopped but didn’t get an answer. He said the ranger then pulled him from his truck and forced him to the ground.
"He puts me in a choke-hold and throws me on the ground and put handcuffs on me."
Carl said he had heart surgery that requires him to wear a protective vest while driving. That left his wife Margaret concerned.
"I said you’re not going to hurt him because he don’t have no chest bone," said Margaret. "He had him in a headlock, arm-lock or something."
The ranger’s account states that Margaret was holding an 18-inch wooden bat over her head. The ranger stated that he had asked her to step back, threatening her with the use of pepper spray.
"I had a little old bat, but I wasn’t go to hit him," Margaret said.
"He said that was a weapon, then runs and kicks her," said Carl as he fought back tears. "That was uncalled for. No one has a right to beat on a woman."
Another park ranger was called to the scene and an Akron Police officer also responded.
The couple was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing official business, aggravated menacing and failure to comply.
"He doesn’t deserve to be a boy scout, let alone a park ranger," said Carl.
According to a statement, Summit Metro Parks Director Lisa King requested that all charges against the couple be dropped. The ranger has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
"What we did know that transpired, that seemed like the step we needed to take and I feel strongly about it," said King.
"We sincerely regret that this has happened," said King. "The trust of the public is of great value to us so we’re going to do everything in our power to maintain that."
Metro Park officials have requested a third party investigation be conducted by the Akron Police Department.
The Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association released the following statement regarding the incident involving Axner:
"The OPBA is aware of the incident involving Officer Axner of the Summit County Metroparks Ranger Unit. After discussion with District officials, we were informed that the incident has been turned over to the Akron Police Department for a neutral investigation. We fully support this decision and the officers of the Akron PD. The OPBA believes that after a full and fair investigation, the investigation will determine that the officer acted within the guidelines of his training and police policies and procedures."