Police tase, arrest woman for refusing to wear mask at game
Noncompliance with state mask mandates during an eighth-grade football game at Logan and video-recorded resistance resulted in the tasing and arrest of a Marietta City Schools parent Wednesday.
MCS Athletic Director Cody Venderlic and Logan Athletic Director Theresa Schultheiss confirmed the incident publicly shared via two social media videos online Wednesday.
Schultheiss confirmed that the junior high school assistant principal Adam Twiss was also present asking the MCS mother to comply and put her mask, seen in the videos in her right pocket, back on.
MCS Board Member Doug Mallett confirmed his witness of the events Wednesday saying he was at Logan to watch the seventh-grade game.
Another MCS fan, Skylar Steward, also publicly shared a video online launching a complaint against the Logan Police Department on Wednesday.
“The police officer attempted to detain her, she resisted … she wasn’t hurting anybody,” said Steward, identifying the woman as his son’s mother, Alecia Kitts of Marietta, and the arresting officer as one Officer Smith before calling on his viewership to “fill Logan with protestors.”
The other two cell phone videos which were publicly shared by one Tiffany Lynn and one Tim Ryan, both Marietta City Schools fans, who captured the arrest and tasing and the interception of Mallett.
Officials who saw the videos or witnessed the incident spoke Wednesday following the game.
“I’m grateful that it didn’t happen in Marietta, but it saddens me that it was Marietta that caused it in Logan,” said Venderlic. “As athletic directors, we’ve talked about this too and the biggest challenge about dealing with visiting fans is people behave much better at home than when they’re on the road.”
Venderlic stated he was in constant communication with Marietta City Schools Superintendent Will Hampton, Marietta High School Principal Chad Rinard and Marietta Middle School Principal Brittany Schob concerning the incident and information relayed to him during the escalation by Schultheiss.
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.”
“This rule has been in effect since we were told we could play,” said Schultheiss. “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.”
Both Venderlic and Hampton asked that all fans remember what the rules are, with the focus and goal to allow students to play.
“The governor and the (Ohio) health department have made it very clear that masks are required indoor and outdoor at sports facilities. They’re just part of the expectation,” said Venderlic. “They’re one of the requirements the OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) brought down and said that if we’re going to be able to have fall sports we’re going to have to social distance and we’re going to have to wear masks.”
In review of the videos, it appears that the woman arrested had a mask in her right pocket, with American flag imagery printed upon it.
“I am really disappointed,” said Hampton after learning of the incident. “If you chose not to (wear a mask) then you threaten not only our ability to have sports but put your ability to watch as a spectator in jeopardy as well.”
Hampton praised the work of his staff and noted compliance and efforts to return children to classrooms, sporting events and extracurriculars.
“Instead, we’re talking about an individual who didn’t follow the rules and made a spectacle of herself,” said Hampton.
Mallett who confirmed Wednesday that he rose from his seat when Kitts was tased by the police officer administering the arrest.
‘It escalated pretty fast into an ugly situation, he tased her pretty fast,” said Mallett. “I didn’t see where she was putting anybody at risk, I guess that’s a Logan rule. It depends on interpretation, it’s a state rule, but I thought there was some wiggle room if you have health issues. I tried to stay out of it until he got the taser out.”
Mallett said he hoped “cooler heads prevailed” after witnessing both the MCS mother and grandmother escorted to police vehicles.
“Hopefully they released her and forgot about the resisting arrest,” he said.
In the video posted by Tiffany Lynn, the police officer and Logan official are joined at the bottom of the stands by a second officer. “Our other options are no fans — which is not what we want to do,” said Schultheiss. “The other option is to stop the game and then we send kids home. I don’t want to hurt these kids. We’re here to respect the players and let the kids play.”
She said the school district, like Venderlic, described of Marietta’s sporting events, contracts with the local police department for presence at all of its athletic events.
The Logan Police Department confirmed Wednesday that the incident remains under investigation.