A settlement has been reached between West Chester Twp. and a man who was reportedly beaten by several officers following a bar fight last summer.
Trustees in West Chester Township approved a settlement agreement on Dec. 4, 2012, of $265,000 to be paid to Jeremy M. Lewis, 30, of Blanchester, according to a copy of the agreement.
Surveillance video from the early hours of May 6, 2012 show the alleged beating of the man by officers who were responding to a bar fight at Win, Place or Show Sports Bar and Grill, located at 9933 Cincinnati-Columbus Road.
The five-minute video shows Lewis — who was allegedly involved in the bar fight — on the back deck of the bar. Officers discharged pepper spray and ordered Lewis to get on the ground, according to police statements at the time.
For about 42 seconds, three officers are recorded repeatedly striking the subject with their batons before he is handcuffed.
A Butler County grand jury on June 27, 2012 announced its decision not to indict Lewis on three counts of assault, obstructing official business and resisting arrest, according to Butler County court documents.
Police Chief Erik Niehaus received an email the following day, June 28, 2012, from Attorney Kenneth J. Crehan of Crehan & Thumann LLC in downtown Cincinnati.
“Be advised the Law Firm of Crehan & Thumann, LLC, has been retained by Mr. Jeremy Lewis to assist him in bringing claims against the West Chester Police Department, as a result of the brutal assault against him by certain West Chester Police Officers,” Crehan said in the email. “Further, we are requesting that you preserve all evidence related to this matter, including but not limited to, the Win Place or Show surveillance video tape which is in your possession.”
Barbara Wilson, public information officer for the township, said there was no lawsuit filed against the township, only a settlement reached.
Donald Crain, the township’s law director, said each case with potential legal action against the township is approached uniquely, depending on the particular facts.
“We entered into an agreement because we felt it was in the best interest of all parties involved,” Crain said. “It was apparent there was going to be a lawsuit and it would take tremendous effort to defend it.”
Following the payment of $265,000, the settlement agreement details that Lewis “does hereby irrevocably and unconditionally waive, release, acquit, and forever discharge” West Chester Twp. — and related parties including the township’s insurance provider Ohio Township Association Risk Management Authority — of any and all liability, claims and complaints.
The Hamilton JournalNews has requested the personnel files of West Chester Twp. police Officers Gary Gabbard, Paul Lovell and Randy Farris, who were involved in the arrest. Wilson said following the incident, no disciplinary action has been taken against the officers.
Wilson said the settlement amount of $265,000 was paid by the Ohio Township Association Risk Management Authority following the township’s payment of a $4,000 deductible for the law enforcement liability coverage, which was approved by trustees on Jan. 22.
“The payment of the foregoing sum shall not be construed as an admission of liability, and is paid solely because the settlement amount is significantly less than anticipated future litigation expenses,” states the settlement agreement.
Regarding the settlement with Lewis, the township incurred an estimated $13,464 in legal fees from Frost Brown Todd, according to Wilson.
Hannah Poturalski - Hamilton JournalNews, Ohio (MCT)
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