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Kent Police Stop, Brief Detainment of Resident Causes Stir
Kent Supervisor Jaime McGlasson found no wrongdoing by several town police officers for briefly stopping and detaining a resident last month who mildly resembled the description of a subject following a rash of nearby thefts.
McGlasson said last week she investigated the Apr. 18 incident that took place on Warwick Road after resident Ryan Theodore filed a formal complaint that he had been unlawfully questioned and detained.
“I did my own private investigation, and interviewed all the officers, I interviewed Mr. Theodore, I’d gone through all the radio traffic that we got that day, I went through all the pictures and that was my findings, that there was nothing,” McGlasson said last Friday, the day after her office issued a press release regarding the inquiry.
Theodore, who could not be reached for comment late last week by The Examiner, posted 12 minutes and 32 seconds of officer bodycam footage he obtained from the incident on YouTube on Apr. 29. The video timestamp that appeared when Theodore was in a police car handcuffed was about 1:15 p.m. on Apr. 18. (Video can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EgolRrSdHM)
On his YouTube posting, Theodore accused the officers of violating his rights for stopping him while he was taking a walk in his neighborhood, saying he was never told why he was being stopped and that police lacked the authority to detain him because there was no report of criminal activity in a call about a suspicious individual that morning.
He said he was handcuffed after refusing to identify himself to officers.
“I was walking around my neighborhood and was about 4 blocks from my home,” Theodore stated.
“There are no records of the Chief’s first contact with me,” he also stated. “He pulled up alongside me in an unmarked car and began questioning me without telling me he is a police officer. He tells me he’s going to follow me so I turn around and start walking home.”
He started recording the officers’ actions when other units converged, he wrote.
Less than three hours earlier, a nearby resident reported to Kent police that he saw a suspicious person in his home doorbell camera, who was described as a white male wearing a brown hoodie and gray pants. Theodore, also a white male, was wearing what appeared to be a dark gray hoodie and blue jeans.
A message left for Police Chief Kevin Owens was not returned.
On the video, while walking along Warwick Road, one of the officers gets out of a vehicle and asks Theodore to stop.
“Are you detaining me?” Theodore asked.
“Yes, I am, sir,” the officer responded.
“What is my crime? Theodore inquired.
He then asks repeatedly why he is being detained before being placed in the back of a police car.
“This is incredible that this is happening in America,” Theodore told officers moments later. “I’m a free man. I’ve done no wrong.”
“What were you doing in people’s yards, looking in their windows?” an officer in the video asked him.
“What are you talking about?” he replied.
Shortly afterward, an officer explained to Theodore that there had been multiple complaints about “someone entering properties, knocking on doors, opening windows. You matched the description. That’s why you’re here.”
McGlasson said Theodore was detained for roughly eight minutes until the officers could ascertain that he was not the individual they were looking for.
“Mr. Theodore exerted his rights to not give his name,” McGlasson said. “That’s definitely within his rights, and my officers executed their rights to be able to detain someone while they figured out whether or not this is the person they’re looking for or not.”
She said it was necessary for her to issue a press release after completing her investigation because Theodore had sent the video to another YouTuber with nearly one million followers. That resulted in not just negative comments but death threats to members of the police department and other town personnel, she said.
The supervisor also said that what Theodore posted doesn’t tell the entire story. The posted video was only a portion of all the bodycam footage obtained from the officers, McGlasson said.
“It is unfortunate that, in the course of lawfully performing their duty to protect the safety of our Town residents, these unjustified allegations have been made against our Officers,” McGlasson stated in her release. “It is further unfortunate that the matter has resorted to a social media campaign which encourages a distortion of facts, harassment of Town employees and officials and the disruption of Town Hall and Police Department operations.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/