Investigation clears Oberlin officer of harassment allegations

By Evan Goodenow -

Two Oberlin police officers accused of racial harassment have been cleared in a report by the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office, , released Wednesday by police chief Juan Torres.

Officers Corey Shoemaker and Bashshar Wiley were accused by Monique Brooks-Cochran and Arvis Townsend, her boyfriend, both of whom are black. Shoemaker is white and Wiley is biracial.

The couple said Wiley had gone out of his way to try to arrest them over the last four years. They said he encouraged Shoemaker, a rookie officer on probation, to hassle them during a July 25 traffic stop. Brooks-Cochran was cited for driving with a suspended license during the stop.

Brooks-Cochran couldn’t be reached Wednesday and Townsend didn’t return calls, but in a prior interview Townsend said Wiley was constantly stopping by his home and frequently arresting him.

Townsend, whose criminal record includes convictions for cocaine possession, disorderly conduct, and forgery, said his record shouldn’t make him a target.

“People change,” he said. “Every chance he has, he tries to arrest me.”

However, the report by LCSO Lt. Heath Tester said the officers acted professionally. Tester said police responded to 49 incidents involving Brooks-Cochran and Townsend between July 2012 and July 2016.

They included incidents where the couple were complainants, suspects, or victims. During the period, Brooks-Cochran was arrested once and Townsend five times.

Wiley responded to 17 of the calls (35 percent). Wiley was also responsible for six percent of the 397 times police ran license plates of vehicles Brooks-Cochran or Townsend were in.

Tester said Wiley’s had the highest percentage of involvement with Brooks-Cochran and Townsend of any Oberlin officer.

But given that the police department only has about 18 officers and Oberlin only has about 8,300 residents, Tester said the percentage wasn’t that unusual. “His overall level of enforcement activity, as it relates to either Ms. Brooks-Cochran or Townsend, does not necessarily reflect or signify attention or enforcement action of a biased nature,” Tester wrote.

Regarding the traffic stop, Tester said police body camera video shows Shoemaker as nervous but not intimidating. “When Ms. Brooks-Cochran starts to argue with Officer Shoemaker, he tries diligently to answer her questions and calm her concerns,” Tester said.

Tester noted Wiley, who is Shoemaker’s field training officer, never approached the vehicle during the stop.

Tester said Townsend filmed the traffic stop on his phone but never provided the video despite being asked. The News-Tribune offered to view video Townsend said he had, but he never provided it.

Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.

By Evan Goodenow