A Massillon police officer, who wants lawmakers to make resisting arrest a felony in the state of Ohio, is citing recent incidents as reasons for tougher penalties.
In a letter to State Representative Kirk Schuring, Sgt. Brian Muntean wrote, "Resisting arrest is a big problem in the law enforcement profession. Often, it leads to injuries to officers, the suspect, and even bystanders who had nothing to do with the original incident. My department has had three officers in the last week alone injured during resisting arrest incidents."
Muntean pointed out that resisting arrest is a second-degree misdemeanor and enhances to a first-degree misdemeanor if the officer is injured as a result of the resisting.
"It's a fourth-degree felony in the state of Ohio to possess a stolen shopping cart, but to resist arrest from a police officer is a second-degree misdemeanor? That makes no sense," Muntean told News 5.
On Dec. 8, Officer Mike Manos chased after a man who had a theft warrant. The incident was captured on police body camera.
According to the police report, Manos fell and injured his shoulder when the suspect broke away forcibly. The suspect was captured by other officers and arrested.
On Dec. 5, another officer hit his head on a table during a scuffle with an unruly man at the library. On Dec. 3, a third officer hurt his shoulder during an altercation with a man at a senior assisted living residence.
"A lot of bad things can happen during resisting. They never end well," Muntean said.
However, defense attorney Warner Mendenhall called the idea of making resisting arrest a felony "a terrible idea."
"They have a very tough job, but this is simply going too far," Mendenhall said. "This is often a tack-on charge and the problem with that is it's often a he-said-he-said or a he-said-she-said situation."
Mendenhall also believes current Ohio law which allows for a felony assault charge is some situations is sufficient.
"The reality is there is such a thing as false arrest and illegal arrest, so even if you were resisting a false arrest, you could be charged with a felony then," Mendenhall said.
State Representative Schuring did not respond to News 5's request for comment.