MANSFIELD -- Alomar Davenport said he wants to use his recent car stop by Mansfield police, which included two officers pulling their guns, to prevent a future tragedy.
The sole candidate on the Nov. 5 ballot to represent the 4th Ward on Mansfield City Council, the 42-year-old Davenport plans a community meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the North End Community Improvement Collaborative, 134 N Main St.
Davenport, who was cited Aug. 15 for an improper right turn and for driving with a suspended license, said the focus of the meeting will not be the car stop.
"Regardless of what we say Monday, it will not change what happened on the 15th. That's the past and it's over with. The focus is the future.
"The focus is on when the 20-year-old kid gets stopped (by police) and that fear on both sides begins to come up ... it's on how he or she would react and should act ... it's about stopping negative perceptions from having a tragic reality," Davenport said Friday.
Mansfield police officials, including Chief Keith Porch, had planned to participate in the meeting. But the city law director's office directed them not to participate until the case is settled in court.
"I want to emphasize this is not a Mansfield Police Department decision (not to attend). The Mansfield Police Department and Chief Porch are on board with what we're trying to do," Davenport said. "They want to be involved with what we are trying to do. But because it's an ongoing case, it has come down from the law director they cannot be involved."
In a statement, Porch said police intend to have a dialogue with Davenport and others in the community once the case concludes.
"We fully support Mr. Davenport's open dialogue with community members regarding this incident ... but the Mansfield Police Department will not be involved until his case is resolved," Porch said.
Davenport said a second meeting will be planned.
"We will reconvene once my case is complete with the police department and the community and do exactly what we had planned to do on Monday," he said.
CAR STOP: Davenport, who has a bench trial on the charges scheduled in Mansfield Municipal Court on Oct. 8, declined to discuss the case.
"I can't really speak on it," he said.
According to police, Alomar, driving a rented 2020 Nissan Rogue, turned right from Mendota Street to drive south on Lexington Avenue at 3:40 p.m. He turned into the outermost lane, said police, who stopped him after he turned left onto West Prospect Street.
The Mansfield Police Department released a video of the car stop this week after a public records request by Richland Source.
During the stop, an officer saw what he believed to be a gun and both officers on the scene eventually pulled guns, though neither weapon was ever raised. No weapon was found in the vehicle.
"The backup officer observed what we perceived to be the slide of a firearm in the center console while Mr. Davenport was looking for his license," Porch said in a statement.
The officer who made the stop initially told Davenport why he had stopped the vehicle.
"Not even a huge deal," the officer is heard saying on the video.
The officer asked Davenport if he had his driver's license. Davenport said he did and gave the officer his name. The audio is not clear, but about 45 seconds into the car stop, the officer instructs Davenport to "put your hands out."
"Do you want a supervisor?" the officer asked and then uses his own hand-held radio to request another unit to respond to the scene.
Davenport again gave his name and said he was a councilman-elect. He is a candidate, but is unopposed in November. The second officer arrived and looked into Davenport's vehicle from the passenger side as the first officer asked again for Davenport's license.
Davenport opened his console and the second officer believed he saw a gun. He announced it, which resulted in the first officer pulling his weapon from its holster and holding it down by his side. He instructed Davenport to turn the car off and step out of the vehicle.
"You saw a gun, right?" the first officer asked the second.
The answer is not clear on the audio recording, but the first officer then tells the second, "Well, get your gun out."
At that point, the second officer pulls his gun, again keeping it down by his side.
At that point, Davenport steps from the vehicle, is handcuffed and placed into the rear of the cruiser that made the initial car stop. Ultimately, he was cited for the traffic violations and released.
SUSPENDED LICENSE: Davenport declined on Friday to discuss the case against him, including the suspended license.
Franklin County Municipal Court records show a bench warrant for his arrest was issued on June 21 after he failed to appear or pay fines from being ticketed on May 11 by police for an alleged U-turn and unsafe lane change on North High Street.
Davenport was due in court in Columbus on May 14 and the failure to appear was added on May 22, the same day the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle records show his license was suspended.
Ohio BMV records show his license has been suspended previously for failing to pay traffic fines in other states, including Virginia and Pennsylvania.
His BMV record shows convictions in Ohio and elsewhere for speeding, equipment violations, failure to obey traffic signs, driving without a license, reckless driving, defective lights and improper turns.
IMPORTANT DIALOGUE: Regardless of the reasons for the car stop and his license situation, Davenport said Monday will begin an important community conversation.
"In every instance like this, there is culpability on both sides. In these situations, neither side is blameless.
"A big part of why this happened is a lot of our officers are not within our community. They only know one element of our community. They have that mindset with every stop.
"Being involved and getting to know our community ... along with knowing their job is to deal with (this) element ... will go a long way to stopping things like this," he said.
"I don't know what the officer was thinking. I can only offer my opinion. He walked up to the car expecting to see a gun and when he saw something silver, automatically went to gun and immediately realized it wasn't. (But) they are trained to pull their weapons."