Ohio governor Mike DeWine is warning against a rush to judgment after video emerged of a maskless woman being tased and ejected by police from a football game held at Logan High School.
As reported by The Associated Press, DeWine on Tuesday called the incident, in which the woman resisted being handcuffed while shouting swear words at the arresting officer, "very unfortunate, very unpleasant."
The woman was charged with criminal trespassing. It was initially unclear whether or not she was a parent of one of the middle-school players using the high school field, but The Marietta Times reported today that she has been identified as Alicia Kitts, the mother of a Marietta City Schools student. Only parents and other close relatives are permitted to attend athletic events during the pandemic, according to Ohio Health Department guidelines. The mask-wearing requirement was well publicized in advance of the game, as well as at the gate on game day.
“This rule has been in effect since we were told we could play,” Logan athletic director Theresa Schultheiss said. “Everyone that came through ticketing tonight was reminded, we had regular announcements over the PA reminding you that mouths and noses needed to be covered and we had signs at the bathrooms.”
Schultheiss said the venue hosted 300 fans for the game Wednesday, with only two individuals, the alleged mother and grandmother in the videos, who were “having issues with compliance."
“Once she refused to leave the premises, she was advised she was under arrest for criminal trespassing, she resisted the arrest, which led to the use of force,” the Logan Police Department said in a news release. “This is an unfortunate incident for everyone involved. The incident remains under investigation.”
At least three videos of the incident are known to exist. In review of the videos, it appears that Kitts had a mask in her right pocket. She reportedly claimed that her asthma prevented her from wearing it.
DeWine used his twice-weekly news briefing to caution people against judging the actions of the police department and the school. School officials were following guidelines set out by the Ohio Health Department and the state's high school sports athletic association, with the sole goal of having students play sports again, the governor said. He said the incident was the only in the state he was aware of.
The Republican said times are tense, with the presidential election in the final stretch, some people frustrated by the statewide mask order, and others angry with the outcome of investigations into police shootings of Black people, including Wednesday's decision in Louisville not to charge officers directly in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor during the execution of a warrant, the AP reported.
The governor’s Aug. 19 order allowing fall sports prohibits spectators at events other than family members or individuals close to athletes, with final decisions on those people left up to schools. One in six districts asked the state for permission to add additional spectators for fall sporting events while still following social distancing and mask-wearing rules. Logan-Hocking was not among those districts.