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Ohio Lottery Investigating Employee Who Kicked Suspect While Working As Officer

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The part time Franklin Township officer who resigned after a video surfaced of him kicking a suspect has been reassigned at his full-time job, though questions remain about his history.

Officials at the Ohio Lottery Commission have placed Robert Wells, 48, on desk duty while they conduct their own internal investigation. Wells resigned his part-time position with the Franklin Township police over the weekend, after being placed on leave.

The department is conducting an investigation into Wells, who was shown on cellphone video kicking an 18-year-old suspect in the head. 

Wells was previously fired by the Pataskala Police department in 2002 after a similar incident: A video showed him and his partner punching and kicking an 18-year-old suspect. The prosecutor at the time decided not to bring felony charges, but the Columbus Dispatch reports the officers eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.

So how did Wells get his officer gig in Franklin Township? The town won't say. 

"What I know is that the officer in question was hired under a previous police chief who is no longer with the township, and a previous board of trustees who are also no longer with the township," said Franklin Township trustee Aryeh Alex. 

Nor is it clear how Wells won his current job at the Lottery Commission. Wells started working as an investigator in 2009 and was promoted to supervisor last year. The lottery commission conducts background checks for new employees, but the charges either didn’t turn up or weren’t disqualifying.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.