Officer Ronnie Nelson, who is white, was arrested on Tuesday on a felony charge of official misconduct and a misdemeanor charge of battery following a May 29 incident involving Solomon “Sonny” Smith, who is black.
SPRINGFIELD — The Bay County Sheriff’s Office has no plans to criminally charge other Springfield police officers tied to a recent excessive force case.
Still, the officers could face some discipline or reprimands internally from the department, officials say.
Officer Ronnie Nelson, who is white, was arrested on Tuesday on a felony charge of official misconduct and a misdemeanor charge of battery following a May 29 incident involving Solomon “Sonny” Smith, who is black. The incident was brought under review by Springfield Police Chief Barry Roberts, who decided to have the Bay County Sheriff’s Office handle the investigation.
The officer body camera video footage of the incident starting circulating online Tuesday evening, giving Bay County residents a full view of what happened. The nearly 15-minute footage shows Nelson approach Smith when he was walking down the sidewalk shortly after midnight and begin asking him questions.
Once the rookie officer, named Morgan Weller, who was present with Nelson said incorrectly that Smith provided a false name, Nelson immediately pulled out and use his stun gun. In the video, you can hear Smith pleading to officer Nelson that he just wants to go home.
When the other officers arrived, they took Smith down to the ground. Once the video was made public, there was an outcry from the community to not just terminate the officers, but to charge them as well.
According to a Bay County Sheriff spokesperson on the matter, the investigators had to ask themselves what any responsible responding officer would do in that situation without knowing anything. The responding officers only see a man not handcuffed and the initial officer, Nelson, holding a stun gun.
Still, the other officers involved could face some disciplinary actions.
The other responding officers in question are Joel Oquendo and Brittany League. They are under review with Springfield Police now, a process that could result in them being reprimanded.
Termination is a possibility, but there is no indication if that’ll happen until the internal investigation is over, Roberts said.
“I’m not going to tell you if it was right and I’m not going to tell you if it was wrong,” Roberts said of the other officers’ conduct. “It is under review.”
The other responding Springfield officers are still actively working.
Meanwhile, the rookie officer who accompanied Nelson will receive additional training then what she had already received.
“She was devastated about what happened,” Roberts said “We want to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”