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Community Members Protest Use of Force By Dayton Police During Labor Day Arrest

Leila Goldstein
Protestors raised fists in front of the safety building on Wednesday morning

Around 20 community members gathered to protest in front of the Safety Building in Downtown Dayton this morning. The protest was in response to a video that was posted on Facebook of the Monday arrest of George Lail. In the video, two police officers pin Lail to the ground in front of the Westown Shopping Center in West Dayton. One officer punched Lail three times and then used a TASER on him.

Donald Domineck, Dayton chair of the New Black Panther Party, organized the event. He said he understands that there are times when police have to be aggressive or restrain suspects. But, he said, the video is an example of what people are complaining about when it comes to police.

"That's too much. You [the police] don't have to do all that. It's two of you guys, [the officers] got him on the ground already," he said. "You don't have to beat the hell out of him and put him in the hospital. It's unnecessary."

Another resident at the protest Wednesday morning was Rosemary Dennis, who identified herself as Lail’s mother. She said if the police were stopping her son for a traffic ticket, they didn’t need to beat him the way that they did.

"They hit his head on the ground, like twice, then they kept punching him," she said. "I don't like that. That's my baby and I don’t punch him like that, and ain’t nobody else got no reason to punch him."

Chris Welter
Rosemary Dennis (in white) listens to Donald Domineck speak

The Dayton Police Department said in a statement that Lail ran a red light, and after running his information, the police determined that he was on parole for felonious assault.

According to the department, the two officers, Wayne Hammock and Vincent Carter, then decided to ask Lail to exit the vehicle for safety reasons while they wrote the citation. When he refused, the department said, an officer reached into the vehicle to remove him. According to the police statement, Lail resisted and ran from the officers when they attempted to handcuff him. Lail eventually fell to the ground in front of a store but continued "to resist the officers by pulling his hands and arms underneath his body," according to the statement. The officers handcuffed Lail after punching and tasering him, and Lail was taken to Miami Valley Hospital after the incident, the department said.

Later, officers said they searched his car and found a gun in the center console. They charged him with three felony weapons charges and a parole violation. The incident report can be read here.

The department said there was a reporting error in which the report states "weapons: none" under the arrest information. "The weapon is in plain view during the initial contact with the driver (as he is removed from the car)," the department said in an email. A sergeant in the Dayton Police Department is investigating the incident.

In July, the Dayton City Commission launched five working groups to address police reform. A statement posted to Mayor Nan Whaley's Facebook page said that the city commission was aware of the video and arrest.

"Trust is certainly tested whenever there are use-of-force incidents between Dayton Police and citizens," it said. "Trust can only occur with transparency, and this Commission is committed to ensuring that all of the facts about the incident at Westown Shopping Center this weekend come to light."

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

While working at the station Leila Goldstein has covered the economic effects of grocery cooperatives, police reform efforts in Dayton and the local impact of the coronavirus pandemic on hiring trends, telehealth and public parks. She also reported Trafficked, a four part series on misinformation and human trafficking in Ohio.
Chris Welter is an Environmental Reporter at WYSO through Report for America. In 2017, he completed the radio training program at WYSO's Eichelberger Center for Community Voices. Prior to joining the team at WYSO, he did boots-on-the-ground conservation work and policy research on land-use issues in southwest Ohio as a Miller Fellow with the Tecumseh Land Trust.