8 ZPD Officers Disciplined Since January; Including One Who Threatened CopBlockers

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Back in April (2015) I was spending a decent amount of time in Zanesville, OH doing CopBlock outreach, CopBlocking (see video below), and helping fellow CopBlocker, Herb, get some accountability for his wrongful arrest. Thanks to those efforts, and the rise of Zanesville CopBlock, there are many eyes and ears on the ground in “Z-town” these day. Folks are just waiting to let us here at CopBlock.org know about every little mishap the Zanesville Police are up to on any given day. That’s why I was so happy when I woke up today to find the following submission to CopBlock.org.

A supporter of CopBlock, who lives in Zanesville, thought we’d be interested to hear that the local newspaper, who normally writes pro-police articles, recently pulled a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) and found that several officers have been disciplined since the start of 2015. The reasons for disciplinary actions include write ups for excessive force, failure to appear in court and threatening CopBlockers. According to the Times Recorder:

The police department issued 12 disciplinary actions, including verbal and written reprimands, against patrol officers and corrections officers between January and mid-June.

Only eight of the department’s roughly 70 patrol and corrections officers were disciplined this quarter for various infractions. But though that’s only a fraction of the entire department, Miller said, it’s still vital to hold them accountable not only to their captains but to the public whom they’re charged with protecting.

“It’s done with the belief that this will solve this issue and any issues in the future,” Miller said. “If you don’t address it, you create an environment where it can actually get worse.”

Four of the disciplinary actions involved corrections officer Shane Stephens, who will serve a suspension without pay this month for an excessive use of force on an inmate in the city jail.

Stephens’ first written reprimand came in February for insubordination and misuse of the department’s equipment. Stephens had failed to properly secure his duty belt, which included his radio, handcuffs and keys.

When Jail Administrator Michelle Duke locked the belt in her office, Stephens “became extremely rude and disrespectful” and accused Duke of stealing his equipment, according to the report.

Stephens was given a written reprimand in June for an April Facebook post in which he threatened to cause “physical bodily harm to certain individuals if they were to ever be in our jail,” according to that report.

Because of Stephens’ post, the city jail is no longer able to house anyone involved with cop-blockers, a group of individuals who film their often-contentious interactions with police.

Police have not arrested any individuals associated with the group since then, but Miller said they would likely be held at the county jail if they are.

Days later, Stephens was involved in a physical fight with an inmate at the jail.

When Stephens entered the holding cell to give the inmate his breakfast, the inmate knocked the food from Stephens’ hands, according to the report. Stephens then hit the inmate in the face and neck. Other officers became involved to end the ensuing scuffle.

Stephens will serve a 10-day suspension later this month for the fight — which, Miller concluded in the report, could have been avoided.

A few patrol officers also have been disciplined since January for various offenses.

Among them is officer Jason Burke, who was reprimanded in May for missing an April court date, where he was to testify against a suspect charged with criminal damaging. The suspect was found not guilty, though City Law Director Scott Hillis said the case would have likely been won if Burke had been able to testify, according to the report.

Burke also was suspended for 20 days without pay in April after Miller learned that he had went gambling and drinking in Columbus when he was supposed to be on duty, according to that report.

Burke had first attempted to trade days with another officer, but when that didn’t go through, he instead called off sick, the report notes. He had even attempted to get a doctor’s note to validate his story, according to the report.

What’s the most troubling to me, since I’ve spent the night in the jail that’s no longer allowed to house CopBlockers for safety concerns, is the behavior of Shane Stevens. Stevens has been disciplined four time this year and most recently for assaulting an inmate. The assault happened after Stevens was given a ‘written’ warning for stating he’d do, “physical bodily harm to certain individuals [CopBlockers] if they were to ever be in our jail.” One can’t help but wonder- if the department knew of Steven’s violent mindset, then why didn’t they fire him in order to keep all inmates safe? How did they expect a written warning and discriminatory action (of sending CopBlockers to the County Jail) to solve the problem?

Maybe someone should contact the man Stevens assaulted in jail so that he can sue them (seriously, if you know his name, contact us). It seems the police department was fully aware of Steven’s aggressive behavior and thoughts but choose to ignore them. This put every single inmate he came into contact with at risk, and the lack of proper punishment by the Zanesville Police Chief is the reason Stevens was even able to put his hands on anyone. I would think that when a Corrections Officers publicly states they would initiate force on an inmate, they would be removed from that job 9 out of ten times, merely for the liability to the City if force was ever needed. Yet since Steven’s threat was against CopBlockers, whom are hated by most ZPD officers, the matter was overlooked.

Post from Sgt. McCoy's FB page in April
Post from Sgt. McCoy’s FB page in April

A few of us here at CopBlock have been working on gathering and sharing our own details of ZPD abusive actions, yet this article fails to mention those, probably because they weren’t investigated at all, since it was pesky CopBlockers who were wronged. Those actions included the wrongful arrest of Herb Newton, the illegal actions of Officer Tignor and the potential cover up that was (most likely) ordered by Patrol Sgt. Jon McCoy. Which brings up another case of mental instability, or at a minimum, another ZPD officer with violent thoughts. Back in April I blogged about McCoy, who liked to post aggressively focused meme’s on his Facebook page. Of course, he’s since taken it down, but not before I could capture the moments for eternity. Is McCoy the next loose cannon to go off in Zanesville?

If you’re a taxpayer in Zanesville you might want to pay attention. The police are giving their own kind slaps on the wrist, or merely turning a blind eye to the egregious and illegal actions of their own. This will end up costing taxpayers, and not the officers mentioned above. This is why you must film the police, this is why you must question their actions, because if you don’t they will sweep them under the rug and continue to put others at risk. Then at the end of the day the will pass the bill along to you. It’s time to wake up Zanesville, the stink is right under your nose.

Consider calling the Zanesville Police Department this week. Ask them why they employ violent individuals who tend to take actions into their own hands? Ask them why Shane Stevens is still employed by the City? Ask them why Tignor and McCoy are still on the streets harassing Herb on a daily basis?

Zanesville Police Department: 740.455.0700


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Ademo Freeman

was born and raised in Wisconsin, traveled the country in a RV dubbed "MARV" and is an advocate of a voluntary society, where force is replaced with voluntary interactions. He's partaken in projects such as, Motorhome Diaries, Liberty on Tour, Free Keene, Free Talk Live and is the Founder of CopBlock.org. ____________________________________________________________________________ If you enjoy my work at CopBlock.org, please, consider donating $1/month to the CopBlock Network or purchasing CopBlock.org Gear from the store. ____________________________________________________________________________ Find Ademo at these social networks: Facebook Twitter Youtube