A Columbus man who was forcefully arrested by Athens Police on Court Street in Athens last fall accepted a plea deal in Athens County Municipal Court on Tuesday, under which he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge, a minor misdemeanor.
Ty Bealer, 21, originally had been charged with second-degree misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and obstructing official business. The charge of obstruction was dismissed as a result of the plea agreement reached between Bealer’s attorney and Athens City Prosecutor Tracy Meek, and the charge of resisting arrest was amended to a minor misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
A video showing Bealer, an African-American University of Cincinnati student, being shoved into the ground and arrested by three white Athens Police officers on North Court Street in Athens in late September got shared thousands of times on Twitter in the days after the incident. The video sparked outrage over the officers’ actions and accusations of racism against the APD
Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle defended the officers’ actions in the period after the incident, arguing that his officers used an appropriate level of force and that Bealer’s race had nothing to do with the arrest. Still, he pledged during a community forum in early October, held with several other area law-enforcement chiefs, to work to “stamp out” racism in the Athens Police Department if it were found (though he argued that the APD does not employ racist officers).
Bealer’s attorney, Stephanie Russell-Ramos with the Athens County Office of the Ohio Public Defender, declined to comment on the case’s resolution.
Athens Law Director Lisa Eliason and Assistant Prosecutor Meek in a brief interview last week declined to state the exact reason for the dismissal of the charge of obstruction. However, Eliason said that it’s not uncommon for the city to amend resisting arrest charges to disorderly conduct.
“I don’t know that he (Bealer) was treated much differently than anyone else that would be in a similar set of circumstances,” Eliason said.
Bealer did not respond to a Facebook message sent last Thursday.
APD Chief Pyle said he doesn’t “comment about case resolutions” in an email last week.
YET THE REDUCTION OF THE charges could be perceived as vindication for Bealer, who many on social media argued was treated far too aggressively by police (Bealer reportedly suffered “bumps and bruising” from the incident, and was treated by EMS for Taser wounds the night of the incident).
The Athens Police also this week released records of the case file of the police’s investigation into the incident, which included a variety of videos from onlookers as well as closed-circuit cameras at The J-Bar, where Bealer was before the arrest, and additional footage from Dale’s Valero on North Court Street. That footage shows Bealer attempting to get inside the crowded bar, and being shoved away from the entry on several occasions.
The only video that captures the arrest close-up was taken by a student whose Snapchat file was subpoenaed by the APD, but only after the officers had Bealer on the ground. The video shows a chaotic scene, with a large crowd gathering around three white APD officers as they have Bealer pinned to the ground on the bricks of North Court Street, just outside the Silver Serpent storefront. The video does show Bealer struggling, kicking his feet out at one point and attempting to break free of the officers.
According to the Athens Police narrative of the investigation, police were called to the J-Bar early in the morning of Sept. 29 last year upon hearing reports of Bealer allegedly “fighting” with bar staff, attempting to get inside the J-Bar after being denied entry because he apparently did not have his ID.
When police officer Ethan Doerr approached Bealer on North Court Street after arriving at the J-Bar, he reported later, he “grabbed Bealer’s shirt to get his attention, and he spun around.”
“Upon seeing me, Bealer pulled away form me,” Doerr said. “I grabbed ahold of Bealer and we fell to the hood of a car. Bealer reached across me and grabbed PO (police officer) Spear by the front of the vest and shirt, pulling trapping (sic) me between Bealer and PO Spear.”
Doerr said he punched Bealer “twice in the face” and advised him he was under arrest, but alleged that Bealer continued to fight. The officer said he used his Taser after warning Bealer he would use it.
The only video of the immediate events leading up to the arrest came from the Dale’s Valero camera, which was positioned across the street on the front façade of that building, several dozen yards away from the incident. Because Doerr’s initial interaction with Bealer is blocked by a parked car, it’s difficult to see what transpires initially, but it does show Bealer and Doerr landing on the hood of the parked car for a moment before spilling to the ground in front of the vehicle.
At the J-Bar prior to the arrest incident, according to Doerr’s report in the case summary, he saw J-Bar footage of a male patron punching Bealer in the face as Bealer attempted to get inside the bar. Doerr said he believes that the police could investigate charges against the person who punched Bealer in the face, and said the APD should contact Bealer to see if he wished to pursue charges.
APD Chief Pyle said in an email Wednesday that his office has not heard from Bealer yet on that possibility.
“We decided to allow the discovery process to be the notice to him and his attorneys of what we had uncovered; they would have received the entire case file and like you would have read what we had uncovered,” Pyle said. “We did not hear from Mr. Bealer ref this information, and his defense attorneys, according to Prosecutor Tracy Meek, never brought it up.”
Doerr, the officer referenced in this case, has previously been the subject of two lawsuits alleging he used excessive force in other arrest incidents.