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Former Franklin Township Officer Sentenced To Prison For Kicking Suspect In Head


A former Franklin Township police office has been sentenced to a year in prison for excessive force, stemming from a 2018 incident in which he kicked a subdued suspect in the head.
Robert Wells, 49, was sentenced Wednesday for the May 1, 2018 incident. Video recorded from inside a nearby home shows Wells approaching a suspect, who was already handcuffed and subdued by another officer, and kicking him in the head.

Wells was also sentenced to three years of supervised release.

“This deprived the victim of his Constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer and resulted in bodily injury to the victim,” read an emailed statement from U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman’s office.

The statement also says Wells “made false and misleading statements in his report relating to the arrest of the victim in order to cover up the excessive force and create a false understanding of the circumstances surrounding the arrest and injury.”

The incident unfolded after officer stopped the car of 18-year-old Anthony Foster Jr., who authorities say fled and “continued driving recklessly." Officers stoppoed the car and removed Foster from the vehicle, restraining him on the ground.

Wells resigned from the Franklin Township force one week after the video of him kicking the suspect went viral. He was criminally charged in September, on charges of deprivation of rights under the color of law, and pleaded guilty in Decemeber. The charges carried a maximum of 10 years in prison.

In 2002, Wells was also convicted of assault and fired as a police officer in Pataskala after he and another officer were seen in a cellphone video kicking an 18-year-old man during an arrest.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.