OBERLIN – David Gibson predicted the backlash against his business after an Oberlin College student who was arrested for shoplifting said he was assaulted by Gibson’s son and his account was supported by some college students who witnessed the altercation.
Though there were no surveillance cameras at the time inside Gibson’s Bakery, body camera footage from Oberlin police captured what happened shortly after the incident on November 2016. The Police Department shared the videos and the 911 call with The Chronicle-Telegram this week.
In August, the three students, Jonathan Aladin, Endia Lawrence, and Cecelia Whettstone, pleaded guilty to amended misdemeanor charges of attempted theft and aggravated trespassing in county Common Pleas Court. Aladin also pleaded guilty to underage purchase of alcohol. Aladin initially was charged with robbery, a felony.
According to police, Aladin tried to buy a bottle of wine with a fake ID that Allyn Gibson refused to sell it to him. Gibson then confronted Aladin about two bottles of wine the student had hidden under his shirt.
The police report said Allyn Gibson told Aladin he was calling the police and not to leave and Gibson then took out his phone to take a photo of Aladin. That's when Allyn Gibson said Aladin slapped the phone from his hand and the device hit Gibson in the face. Police have said Aladin then ran from the store, dropping the two bottles of wine to the floor.
Allyn Gibson chased after Aladin, and the two men got into a physical confrontation outside. When police arrived, they reported seeing Allyn Gibson on the ground with Aladin, Lawrence and Whettstone hitting him.
Days of protests followed the incident with many at Oberlin College alleging racism played a part, as Allyn Gibson – David Gibson’s son -- is white and the three students are black. Oberlin College cut business ties with the bakery following the arrests and though it did begin ordering again from Gibson’s for a short time, it again ceased doing business with the bakery last month when Gibson’s filed suit against the college, asking for more than $200,000 in damages.
In a 911 call from student Anna Gelver, who later identifies herself to police as a resident assistant at the college, she says a Gibson’s employee “is beating up this kid for no reason.”
“They’re wrestling on the street and this kid is trying to get away,” Gelver said on the call. “He’s chasing him down Tappan and trying to tackle him.”
During the call, the dispatcher tells Gelver that Aladin is suspected of stealing from the store, and Gelver replies, “He has nothing in his pocket. They’re tackling people who didn’t do anything.”
The body camera footage starts when officers are in Tappan Square and Aladin is being handcuffed.
He tells officers over and over that he’s scared, and when the officer asks him why, Aladin says “I’m a black man in custody of police. I’ve never been in the back in a police car. I’m so scared.”
Officers can be heard saying that when they arrived to Tappan Square, Whettstone and Lawrence were “wailing away” on Allyn Gibson. Aladin continues to say that Allyn Gibson chased him across the street and tackled him to the ground and choked him at one point.
“Why isn’t he being arrested?” Aladin asks the officer, referring to Allyn Gibson.
Police talked with students at the store during the incident, who told officers Allyn Gibson came running out of nowhere and tackled Aladin.
“(Allyn) throws him on the ground and starts hitting him and people walking by are saying, ‘stop, stop’ and people are trying to get him to let go,” Gelver says to police. “Then you come here and arrested them instead of the person who just assaulted this kid for no reason.”
Back inside Gibson’s, David Gibson – as seen on the police body camera footage -- shows police the two bottles of wine on the floor, looks concerned and let’s out a loud sigh when police tell David Gibson that Aladin will be charged with a felony.
“We’re not going off of what they’re saying. We’re charging him with robbery,” the officer says to David Gibson, about the student witnesses. To which David Gibson replies that it doesn’t matter, because the student saw the events differently. “They’re going to trash us,” David Gibson said.
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