PITTSFIELD TWP. — The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether deputies acted properly when they briefly arrested the wrong man after going to an incorrect house while responding to a domestic violence call.
The man arrested June 20, 54-year-old Bob Williams, better known around the areas as “Bushel Bob,” said he filed a complaint because he believes deputies were overly aggressive when they took him off his porch and handcuffed him.
Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Drozdowksi said although the investigation is ongoing, his preliminary review indicates that deputies didn’t violate any policies during the time Williams was detained or during the arrest of his neighbor, 69-year-old James Horton.
According to reports on the incident, Horton’s 10-year-old step-granddaughter called 911 around 9:30 p.m. June 20 to report that her dad, as she called Horton, was beating her grandmother, Annetta Horton, who she described as her mom.
“Help… Help me, help me, help me,” the girl sobbed at the beginning of the call, a portion of which was provided to The Chronicle-Telegram by the county’s 911 call center.
A short time later, the girl told the dispatcher that “my dad’s killing my mom.” Screaming can be heard in the background.
Radio traffic between deputies and dispatchers that night shows there was some confusion over which house deputies were being sent to. The Hortons’ address is 47908 U.S. Route 20. Williams’ home is at 47980 U.S. Route 20.
According to the report, as deputies arrived at Williams’ house, they heard radio traffic that Horton, who at that time had not yet been identified, was coming out of the house.
At the same time, the report said, Williams came into his doorway and was asked by deputies to come outside.
“This is my house, I’m not stepping anywhere,” the report quoted Williams as saying.
When deputies asked where his family was, Williams reportedly asked “Who?”
“This officer repeated the request to exit the doorway at which time it appeared the male was going to retreat inside, and from the knowledge we had at the time, our thought process was to avoid a barricade situation and it was at this time that Deputy (Greg) Hudson and myself grabbed the wrists of the male and pulled him onto the stoop from the doorway,” Sgt. Tim Gallagher wrote in the report.
Gallagher wrote that he had to let go of Williams as they came down off the porch and put Williams against a car. He wrote that Williams continued to struggle and refused to put his arms behind his back.
Gallagher wrote that Hudson told Williams to “put your arm behind your back before it gets broke.”
After Williams was handcuffed, he was put down on his porch and released after deputies learned they were at the wrong house, Gallagher wrote.
Williams disputes portions of that account.
He said when he was asked to come outside, he replied that “I don’t know if I want to do that.” He also said he tried to tell deputies his wife was in Dubai and his daughter was staying with a relative in Wakeman, but the deputies didn’t know where Dubai was and didn’t appear to believe him.
“They grab me, and they throw me off my porch,” he said. “I landed belly-first on my car.”
Williams said he tried to tell deputies that one of his arms wouldn’t go behind his back and the deputy replied “I’ll break your (expletive) arm.” He said he was eventually was handcuffed, but ripped ligaments in the process, for which he is still receiving therapy.
“I was petrified the whole time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Bryan Plemons wrote in his report, he came into Horton’s house and ordered him to get on the floor at gunpoint.
“I’m in my own house; I don’t have to,” Horton replied, according to the report.
Plemons wrote he could hear crying from another room and didn’t know where Annetta Horton or her two 10-year-old children were, so he yelled at Horton to get on the floor again. He then holstered his pistol and tried to grab Horton, who pulled away.
It took several deputies to subdue Horton as he struggled on the floor, Plemons wrote, adding that Horton was only handcuffed after one deputy shocked him with a Taser.
Deputies later located the beaten Annetta Horton “curled up in a ball on the ground behind a shed in the back yard.”
She had visible injuries to her faces and told deputies that her husband had kicked, stomped, hit and pushed her in an argument over his bad attitude after he came home drunk.
Horton pleaded no contest to domestic violence in Oberlin Municipal Court last week and was given probation and a suspended six-month jail sentence. Court records showed he also was fined $150.
Williams, who teaches criminology, said the deputies who arrested him should have been more polite and understanding instead of grabbing him and putting him in handcuffs.
Gallagher wrote in his report that he apologized the night of the incident to Williams and explained the situation.
“Mr. Williams proved to be understanding and repeated that he understood what happens in situations such as these, and although he felt we may have acted a bit too harshly with him, he felt that ‘this would be a valuable lesson to avoid situations like this in the future through training,’ ” Gallagher wrote.
Williams, who filed the complaint about a month after the incident, said he tried to be accommodating that night because he feared he might be charged with a crime if he wasn’t. He said he wants there to be some accountability for what happened that night.
“I’m just frightened to death,” he said. “They robbed me of my safety and security, and I don’t know how they’re going to give it back.”
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.