Arrest at middle school football game leads to lockdown, death threats
LOGAN, Ohio — Fallout from the arrest and removal of one Marietta woman from a middle school football game at Logan continued Thursday.
Alecia Dawn Kitts, 34, of 140 Clifton St., Marietta, was arrested by Logan City Police Officer Chris Smith, who serves as the Logan Hocking School District resource officer, Wednesday following an altercation filmed and publicly shared in two now-viral online videos.
Logan Police Department confirmed Thursday that Kitts faces two charges from the incident; resisting arrest, a second-degree misdemeanor, and criminal trespassing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
“The charges will be filed in Hocking County Municipal Court,” said Capt. Ryan Gabriel on Thursday. “Officer Smith has been an employee since 2000 and started (as) a (school resource officer) shortly after.”
But with the videos of Kitts’ removal from the Logan stands, including footage of Smith using a taser on her shoulder to gain compliance, both Marietta and Logan police departments explained Thursday that their phone lines were ringing off the hook.
Dispatchers at the office which abuts the rural Southeast Ohio city’s Main Street, said the phones did not stop all day, with many of the calls including racial slurs and threats against Smith, who is Black, and against law enforcement officers as a whole.
The fallout also continued into both school districts with a lockdown of Logan-Hocking Local Schools following threats.
“At first I was nervous, they told us during the first period class,” said Akerah Sanders, 10, of Logan, who was in school when the lockdown began.
Sanders spent the afternoon in front of the Logan Police Department with her great aunt, Misty Metcalf, who was in tears as the two held signs in support of Smith alongside more than 30 supporters.
Sanders’ sign said “your the best cop Smitty,” which as the crowd gathered in front of the department continued to grow, it was explained that the officer is well known with students and families in town as “Smitty.”
“I’m a nurse and so I’ve seen a lot of kids come into the hospital and sometimes they’re in a really bad way. We could just call him, I would just call him because I know him and he would just come down and talk with them. They trust him,” said Susan Breining, 38, of Logan. “He’s come down when the clergy weren’t available just to say prayers with people. He’d always come, it doesn’t matter why. He’s selfless.”
Fallouts continued in Marietta with local police fielding calls from across the country with threats, and Marietta City Schools Superintendent Will Hampton considering requesting charges against others calling in threats to bring armed individuals from Kentucky, Florida and other states to Marietta events.
Hampton said moving forward, play will stop and children will be sent home from Marietta City School games if health mandates are not complied with.
But a third public video which was widely shared Wednesday evening from the social media page of Skylar Steward, 33, of Marietta, who shares a son with Kitts, also appeared to fuel additional threats.
Steward’s video was broadcast live from his entry into the Logan Police Department on Wednesday to file a citizen complaint against Smith. He said he requested body camera footage and to speak with both Smith and the supervisor in charge but that neither were made available Wednesday night.
But then, Steward also disseminated the telephone number of the police department on his live video and answered comments as to the size of the rural city’s department.
One result, officials said, were death threats.
“That was not my intention,” said Steward, a retired U.S. Marine who is a member of the militia known as the Ohio Patriots. “Could we have filled Logan to protest, yes.”
Steward said he stayed with a fellow militia member in Zanesville on Wednesday night, while trying to obtain answers from the police department and find legal counsel for Kitts.
Steward met with the Times in the neighboring city to discuss fears for his son, Levi, and Kitts’ other children and fears for the Logan Police Department.
“My 5-year-old was helpless because of him,” said Steward, varying between blaming Smith for excessive force, improper handling or negligent care of his taser, and not calling for backup; and placing blame on Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine for the mask mandate in place for attendees of athletic events due to coronavirus.
“Do I blame Logan PD for what happened? No. I solely put what happened on Gov. DeWine’s shoulders,” said Steward.
DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted both addressed the incident during their press conference Thursday, calling for civility and for the time for both the school’s investigation and the department’s investigation to take place.
Husted also announced Thursday both a lessening of restrictions for athletic events, allowing tournament games to happen within the same calendar day moving forward and tightening the requirement for compliance with health mandates for attendees of all athletic events.
“It is important to note, the female was not arrested for failing to wear a mask,” reads the release from the Logan department. “She was asked to leave the premises for continually violating school policy. Once she refused to leave the premises, she was advised she was under arrest for criminal trespassing, she resisted arrest, which led to the use of force. This is an unfortunate incident for everyone involved.”
Steward said he doesn’t agree, and while he’s attended both Black Lives Matter rallies and marches in Parkersburg, W.Va., and Marietta, as well as other areas across Ohio with militia members in support of the movement, and attended “Back the Blue” rallies, he’s conflicted about the incident Wednesday.
“I still back the blue 100 percent, but I’ll still call foul play,” he said “But I hope (their son) doesn’t remember it at all.”
He stopped, using his army green shirt to wipe his eyes.
“He’s a bright little boy, he’s a caring little boy … I don’t ever want him to be afraid of a police officer,” said Steward. “But everything is too gray to ever go there and protest because we have no answers.”
He said while some Logan and Marietta residents alleged that Kitts had used racial slurs against Smith before filming began by two other Marietta fans, without access to bodycam footage, he’s left more worried about his son losing his mother.
“Her nieces and nephews are black, I’ve never heard her use a racial slur,” he said. “Yes, she has a past, but I’m proud of the human being she’s becoming. She’s focused on being a mom.”
Janelle Patterson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.