An altercation between Fairfield police and patrons at the Fairfield Aquatic Center last week has yielded two versions of what occurred, with each side claiming unnecessary and inappropriate, even injurious, actions were taken to calm the situation.
Both sides claim there is videotape to back their statements.
The event happened Tuesday, June 9, when Fairfield police responded to the pool after a group of juveniles was asked to leave because one of them did not have a swimsuit.
The incident escalated to one where police physically restrained the youths and used pepper spray on one of the teenagers. Four people were arrested: two adults, plus a 12-year-old and 15-year-old.
Krystal and Maya Dixon, two adults on the scene, are scheduled to appear in court this morning on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
At a news conference Tuesday, Bishop Bobby Hilton, leader of Word Deliverance Ministries in Forest Park, played snippets of a video Dixon’s family recorded that day. Pictures of two juveniles who were hospitalized and later released decorated the room
Hilton said he was “shocked” and “embarrassed” at what he called the police department’s “ridiculous” and excessive use of force.
But Fairfield Police Chief Michael J. Dickey said the video clips only reinforced his opinion officers acted appropriately.
“All they are trying to do is calm everyone down,” Dickey told The Enquirer. “It’s just business.”
Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller has seen surveillance video of the incident and reviewed a preliminary police report. He agreed with his police chief.
“This is an unfortunate situation and our officers had a tough situation there. But I think they did a good job in showing restraint,” Miller said.
He said he has not seen the two-minute video provided by Hilton.
“Give us some time to review this and give a response,” the mayor said.
“I’ve talked to the police chief, the city manager and the parks and recreation director. We have to complete our investigation. But if anyone else has more information about this, we’d like them to provide that to us.”
Hilton said Tuesday that news reports of the incident were “nowhere near reflective” of the video he was shown by family who were at the pool.
“It really disturbs me that I’m here,” Hilton said. “I don’t want to be known as someone who stands against police officers.”
“I have not seen any behavior that should have escalated the situation,” Hilton said.
Hilton wrote in a Facebook post Monday a 12-year-old girl involved suffered a broken jaw and broken ribs because of the police action. At the press conference Tuesday, Hilton refused to discuss the seriousness of her injuries.
There is no independent confirmation of the injuries. The emergency medical technicians on site that day did not make note of any injuries sustained by juveniles other than side effects from pepper spray.
Although Dixon and her sister Krystal Dixon attended the news conference, Hilton declined to let them answer questions.
Hilton said the family came to him after they went to the police department Friday and were told they couldn’t make a report and needed to talk to the police chief.
This, again, led to a disagreement.
Dickey said he was out of the office, but the records department staff told the family they could come back and talk to him later in the afternoon. They agreed, but never did, Dickey said.
Fairfield City Council member Mike Snyder voiced concerns about the incident “being tried in the media.”
“In all those kinds of video, you don’t know what came before,” he said of recordings made by bystanders. “I did not see any excessive force. It appears the police were attempting to restrain the teens in a professional way.”
“It’s a sad situation whenever you have a confrontation between an officer and a group of people, it’s always a volatile situation.”
Hilton said he heard 911 audio from a pool employee who said she was scared during the incident.
“Would she have come to the same conclusion if everyone was white?” Hilton asked.
Police insist race played no role in the altercation. Fairfield police spokesman Doug Day said surveillance video from the pool showed juveniles confronting the officers and trying to fight them.
Pool employees declined to comment.