Police officer in Ohio on administrative leave after punching Miami University football player during arrest


CNN

By Jamiel Lynch, CNN

(CNN) — An Oxford, Ohio, police officer seen punching a Miami University football player during a November arrest outside a local bar has been placed on administrative leave during an investigation, police say.

The student, identified by family as Devin Johnson, entered Brick Street bar through an exit-only gate, pushing past a female employee on November 18, according to a Facebook post by Oxford police.

When the manager of the bar confronted Johnson, he was assaulted, according to police. Johnson then refused to leave the bar and an altercation occurred outside the establishment, the post said.

“When the officer arrived at the scene, he observed the individual resisting and he was unable to complete the arrest until additional officers were able to assist in getting him into handcuffs,” the post added.

Johnson denies pushing anyone inside the bar and has disputed Oxford police’s account of what took place that night.

CNN has reached out to police for the incident report and additional comment.

Johnson, a 20-year-old defensive back for the Miami RedHawks, was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, assault, criminal trespass and underage intoxication. Johnson has pleaded not guilty to the charges, his attorney told CNN. His case has been set for trial in February, according to court records.

“Devin has steadfastly maintained his innocence of all charges and we strongly encourage individuals who may have additional footage or information pertinent to this incident to come forward,” Johnson’s attorney, Ryan Agee, said in a Thursday statement to CNN.

In surveillance video circulating on social media, Johnson can be seen outside the bar with several other people. Johnson and one of the men are seen struggling and Johnson is pinned on the ground by at least three people before police arrive.

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An officer arrives on scene as the people have Johnson on the ground. The officer can be seen attempting to hold Johnson on the ground and appears to punch him three times. They continue to hold Johnson down as another officer arrives on scene. Both officers can be seen forcibly holding Johnson’s head, one of them pulling him by the hair at one point, before placing handcuffs on him.

Johnson’s attorney called the video “deeply disturbing” in a statement to the Miami Student earlier this week.

Agee told CNN, “To date, there has been a concerning lack of communication from the Oxford City Police Department and those conducting the use of force investigation. Given the department’s public statements post-incident and their seeming oversight of critical details, we firmly believe that an independent, external investigation is not only justified but essential to uphold the trust and confidence of the community and the Johnson family in the investigative process.”

Addressing the video in a Facebook post on Monday, Oxford police said their initial investigation “did not include this video angle.”

The officer involved in the incident, Matthew Blauvelt, is on paid administrative leave during the investigation, according to Oxford Police Chief John Jones. CNN was unable to reach Blauvelt for comment.

A statement from Miami University said it was aware of the “disturbing video” and had reached out to the student. The university has also “contacted the City of Oxford to learn more about this incident and to express our deep concerns about what occurred,” it said.

Mayor William Snavely said in a statement to CNN, “This is a very unusual and unfortunate event for Oxford. Clearly, the City does not condone excessive use of force. The officer involved has been placed on administrative leave and a full investigation is underway. We intend for that investigation to be fair, transparent, and concluded as soon as possible.”

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When reached for comment on the incident, a representative from Brick Street said they did not have a comment at this time.

In a Tuesday Instagram post, the establishment said, in part, “The video is disturbing, especially for Devin and family members. We are grateful that Devin and our crowd manager did not require any medical attention and that Devin was released at the police station shortly after the incident. Regardless, it does not change the fact that this portion of the video is disturbing and has evoked emotions.”

“We look forward to an opportunity to meet with Devin after the break. These situations can happen in seconds when emotions are high and quickly spiral. Good people can get caught in the middle of unfortunately (sic) circumstances,” it added.

CNN’s David Williams contributed to this report.

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