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She says, they say

Alex Green • Sep 29, 2014 at 5:25 AM


She's spent much of the last four years trying to sue the Put-in-Bay police department.

Virginia Blumensaadt is now taking her case to the Ohio Supreme Court after losing in Ottawa County Municipal and Common Pleas courts. And in the Sixth District of the Ohio Court of Appeals.

Blumensaadt, 69, alleges she broke her arm in August 2010 when she was thrown to the ground by Put-in-Bay police officer Matthew Plesz. Family members of Blumensaadt told the Register they've seen the X-rays displaying the fracture, and others witnessed the alleged police brutality.

The incident began when Blumensaadt was visiting her son's restaurant Axel and Harry's when he called police to help with a rowdy National Guard crew that refused to leave.

The inebriated men were calling customers and staff racial slurs, and the Blumensaadt's wanted them to leave. She called police when they wouldn't.

"They got after my son," Blumensaadt said. "It's his business, instead of doing anything to the Army boys."

The call to police did not help matters, she said.

A police report of the incident states Blumensaadt's son was intoxicated and boisterous, pointing his finger at officers and allegedly pushing one.

Virginia said he might have been demanding but largely because how the customers were behaving.

Her son was charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing official business.

Like any mother would, Blumensaadt walked over to the area where her son was handcuffed and taken down to the ground. She then walked away when an officer instructed her to, she said.

Even though she complied with orders, police allegedly treated her like a dangerous convict.

"I was pushed from the back down to the ground," Blumensaadt said. "I broke my arm. I fell on my hands and knees."

Her story is consistent with former Put-in-Bay officer Ryan Wurst's recollection of his tenure working for Put-in-Bay police Chief Ric Lampela from 2005 to 2010. He said Lampela told him and other officers to "target" the Blumensaadt's and other island residents and families.

Wurst recently said he was suspended and subsequently fired when he refused to cite another Blumensaadt for her dog running loose.

"I know what's wrong, what's right," Wurst said. "I'm going to do what's right every time."

Blumensaadt knows she is fighting an uphill battle in court, largely because she has represented herself from the start. She hired a local attorney but fired him when he asked for $10,000 up front, she said, just a few days before Aug. 26, 2011: a year after the incident and the last day she could legally sue.

The Put-in-Bay police department has come under fire recently from a variety of sources. The department's been accused of harassing local businesses, violating civil rights and using excessive force.

Blumensaadt said she's been contacted by Ottawa County Sheriff Stephen Levorchick, who told her he wants one of his detective's to interview her about what occurred when her son was arrested.

Levorchick declined comment about her complaint.

At this point, Blumensaadt wants to help stimulate change within the much maligned police department.

"I want to keep (the lawsuit) going because it's important," she said, referring to behavior of officers as "outrageous."

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