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Body cam footage shows new angles of Oxford use of force incident

<p>A surveillance camera outside Brick Street Bar shows an Oxford police officer using force to restrain a Miami University student.</p>

A surveillance camera outside Brick Street Bar shows an Oxford police officer using force to restrain a Miami University student.

Content warning: This story contains body camera footage of a police officer striking a Miami University student three times during an arrest.

New body camera and surveillance footage of the events leading up to and following an use of force incident between an Oxford police officer and a Miami University student outside Brick Street Bar have been released by the City of Oxford as part of a public records request by The Miami Student.

On Nov. 18, 20-year-old Miami football player Devin Johnson got into an altercation with Brick Street staff and Oxford Police Department (OPD) officers after being kicked out of and attempting to re-enter the bar through an exit gate. In security footage which circulated on social media on Dec. 23, OPD officer Matthew Blauvelt punches Johnson three times and knees him twice to subdue him outside the bar. While the officer tries to restrain him, Johnson makes efforts to raise his head and arms, grabbing at Blauvelt.

Eight videos have been released by the OPD so far, including four security tapes from Brick Street and four officers’ body cam footage. Three of the videos from Brick Street’s security cameras have already been on social media, including two by Johnson’s lawyer, Ryan Agee.

An investigation by the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office found that Blauvelt did not use excessive force during the incident. The prosecutor’s investigation included four additional body camera angles that have not yet been released by OPD.

None of the videos obtained by The Miami Student include audio. Legal representatives for the City of Oxford wrote that the audio was redacted due to pending criminal proceedings against Johnson, who has been charged with criminal trespassing, underage intoxication, resisting arrest and assault. His trial, originally set for Feb. 28, has been moved up to Feb. 13 at the Butler County Area 1 Court.

At 1:21 a.m. on Nov. 18, video footage from a camera located inside the patio at Brick Street shows a young male walking up to a gate labeled “Exit.” The man, later identified in the police report as Johnson, tries to enter the gate but walks away.

About 30 seconds later on a different camera located outside Brick Street, two girls are seen leaving the bar through the same gate. Johnson grabs the door before it closes and enters the patio of the bar. He is followed in by a male, later identified as a Brick Street employee by legal representatives for the bar.

Once Johnson enters the patio, video footage from a different camera inside the patio shows a bar employee confronting him. Witness reports from Brick Street employees said Johnson was asked to leave, but he pushed a manager and got into physical altercations with other employees.

At 1:22 a.m., the bar manager and Johnson become entangled in a struggle down North Poplar Street. Three other men, including the bar employee that followed Johnson into the bar, join in the altercation. Johnson places the bar manager in what appears to be a headlock position, and one of the bar employees falls to the ground bringing Johnson on top of him. The two Brick Street employees wrestle Johnson, pinning him down, while another man stands over them, clapping.

While Johnson struggles, one employee holds his arms and the other holds his legs. Johnson reaches out to slap the employee holding his feet, and a third male comes to hold Johnson’s arms down. Different men join in to try to restrain Johnson, before Blauvelt is seen rushing to the altercation. From the view of a Brick Street camera outside of the patio, it appears Johnson tries to sit up, but Blauvelt pushes him down. The bar manager and previous employee hold Johnson’s feet while another male, who initially came from the direction of the bar, holds Johnson’s arms.

In his statement of facts, Blauvelt wrote that he told Johnson three times to roll onto his stomach, but he refused. Blauvelt asked him a fourth time, and Johnson again did not comply.

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In Blauvelt’s body camera footage, Johnson can be seen trying to reach up to grab Blauvelt. In Blauvelt’s statement of facts, he writes that Johnson pulled him on top of himself, causing Blauvelt to become entangled with him. Blauvelt used three upper body strikes on Johnson to gain compliance.

Following the strikes, Johnson appears to raise his head again, and Blauvelt pushes it down. In the body camera footage, Johnson tries to grab onto Blauvelt again and lifts his head, Blauvelt pushes him down again, and Oxford police officer Paul Hellwarth arrives and grabs Johnson’s arms. Blauvelt and Hellwarth flip Johnson onto his stomach. Blauvelt wrote in his statement that Johnson attempted to push himself off the ground, so he used two knee strikes to prevent him. The Miami Student has requested Hellwarth’s body camera footage, which has not yet been released.

Oxford police officer Matthew Blauvelt's body camera footage begins with him running to the scene at Brick Street Bar and concludes with him discussing the incident with other OPD officers and Brick Street employees.

At 1:23 a.m., a third OPD officer arrives as Hellwarth and Blauvelt put two sets of handcuffs on Johnson. Four more OPD officers arrive. They remove personal belongings from his pockets, and Blauvelt steps away to speak with the bar manager and a bar employee wearing a Brick Street sweatshirt with “STAFF” written on the back. In Blauvelt’s body camera footage, he is seen pointing at the bar manager’s lip, where according to his witness statement, he “received a few hits to the face, getting a bloody lip and forehead when taken to the ground.”

Hellwarth and two other officers roll Johnson onto his side and help him stand up. At 1:25 a.m., Hellwarth and another officer walk Johnson to the cop car that Hellwarth arrived in.

Hellwarth then meets Blauvelt, another OPD officer, the bar manager and a bar employee as they appear to retell the events of what happened. Other officers still at the scene appear to be talking with other witnesses.

Blauvelt’s statement of facts said Johnson was transported to OPD but was released that night. OPD has confirmed in previous statements that Johnson did not have any injuries that required medical attention.

All footage of the incident currently available can be accessed on The Miami Student’s website at this link.