Lorain Police, community leaders hold press conference

LORAIN, OHIO - Lorain Police held a press conference Saturday afternoon with community and pastoral leaders regarding the incident with Pele Smith.

Officer Zachary Ferenec is one of four policemen who are being sued in federal court by Pele Smith for excessive force.

Pastor Timothy Williams was first to note that they had reviewed the video  of the incident that happened two years ago and that he and other pastoral leaders believe they all have a healthy relationship with the police.

Before he introduced Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera, Williams said that he and the others were not there to defend anything  but were there to be transparent. He added that "none of us saw the video without angst..."

Rivera said that the department was speaking out against legal advice because of the pending lawsuit. He emphasized that a full investigation will be done. He said the department has sought an outside, third-party review and the Lorain County Prosecutor will review the incident.

Ward 6 Councilman Angel Arroyo Jr. said the incident happened in his ward. One of the first things he said was that this situation is different from Tamir Rice and different from the 137 shots.

(Rice, 12, was shot and killed by Cleveland Police Nov. 22, 2014 and Cleveland Police shot and killed Malissa William and Timothy Russell with a barrage of bullets on Nov. 29, 2012 in an East Cleveland parking lot.)

Arroyo said the Pele Smith incident happened two years ago and that "...this isn't something that happens all the time here..."

Arroyo asked that everyone allows the community of Lorain to handle this.

Records show Smith was actively resistant which, according to their use of force policy, means he didn't try to strike an officer, but was resisting efforts by police to restrain him.

In the video, Smith is handcuffed behind his back when Ferenec grabs his arm and takes him to the cruiser where Smith says Ferenec slammed his head into the windshield, shattering the glass.

Exclusive video | Cop cracks windshield with suspect's head

The Lorain Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement in defense of  the four officers who are being sued in the Smith case.

"It's important to note that the camera footage offers just a sliver of information about the stop and that the man being arrested was combative with police," according to the statement.

Civil rights activists are calling for the officers to be fired and prosecuted.

No officer has been charged or disciplined in the case.  But Smith was charged with obstructing official business, resisting arrest, and tampering with evidence.  He pleaded guilty when he was promised probation.


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