White Security Guard Is Charged for Pulling Gun on Black Sheriff's Deputy
|thenorthstar||Jul 17, 2019|
A white security guard faces a charge of aggravated menacing after he pulled a gun on a Black Lucas County Sheriff’s deputy in Toledo, Ohio at a local IRS office. Seth Eklund pleaded not guilty to his charge during his first court appearance on July 15. Lucas County Sheriff’s deputy Alan Gaston was wearing his full police uniform, including his badge and police-issued firearm, while on duty on May 31. Gaston visited his local IRS office to ask for a phone number so he could inquire about a letter he received. During the errand, he was nearly shot by Eklund, who informed the deputy that he needed to leave his service weapon outside of the office. When Gaston told Eklund he could not do that, the guard drew his gun and pointed it at the officer. Gaston told WTVG that he vividly remembers the moment Eklund pulled his gun out. “Basically preparing myself to be shot at that moment. Bracing for a shot in my back,” Gaston told the news station. The deputy, who works as a defensive tactics instructor, hoped to de-escalate the situation by walking away, WTVG reported.
Security camera footage showed the guard following Gaston to an elevator with his gun pointed at the deputy. As Gaston stepped into the elevator, the guard attempted to grab him and take him into custody, the video revealed.
“There’s really no way to know how you’re going to act when there’s a gun pointed at you and when you think you’re going to lose your life,” Gaston said. Toledo Police arrived at the scene after receiving a 911 call from inside the IRS office. According to WTVG, the 911 caller never told dispatch that the man with a gun was a uniformed sheriff’s deputy. “He’s got a gun and he won’t leave,” the 911 caller said in audio released to WTVG. However, security footage clearly shows Gaston leaving the IRS office within seconds of arriving, with Eklund following closely behind. Gaston told WTVG that he was concerned about the civilians in the office. “If I’m going to get shot, like I thought I was, it’s not fair. They came in there to do their business,” Gaston said. The sheriff’s deputy and his wife have filed a civil lawsuit against Eklund and the security company that employed him. The deputy’s civil lawsuit seeks compensation after Gaston reportedly suffered emotional and psychological distress and wage losses. Gaston is currently on medical leave from the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office. The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office has not commented on the situation. Neither Sheriff John Tharp nor office spokesman Brett Warner could be immediately reached for comment. Toledo Police Department, which responded to the scene, also has not released public comment about the incident.
Gaston told WTVG that he had a message for Eklund: “I would say, ‘Clearly, your training is lacking and the fact that you went 0 to 100. Lethal force is unacceptable.” WTVG said it attempted to reach Eklund and the IRS but did not hear back.
Eklund faces one charge of aggravated menacing, which can be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, a fourth-degree felony, or a fifth-degree felony. Those convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor charge face up to 180 days in jail, $1,000 in fines or both. The maximum punishment for the felony charge is incarceration for 18 months, $5,000 in fines, or both. Eklund does not appear to be in jail based on the Lucas County Corrections Facility records. There has been several recent incidents of police officers and security guards escalating situations by drawing weapons on Black people who were engaging in daily activities. In June, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego apologized after Phoenix police officers were caught pointing guns and yelling threats at a young Black family after their daughter allegedly took a doll from a Family Dollar store. The couple, identified as Dravon Ames and his pregnant fiancee Aisha Harper, was with their 4-year-old and 1-year-old daughters when they were approached by an officer. The officer allegedly pointed a gun at the family and threatened to shoot them in the face. Gallego said the officer’s behavior was “completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional.”
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.