January 15, 2002 at 8:40 PM EST - Updated July 3 at 5:01 PM
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Two police officers were suspended for 45 days for trying to scare a 15-year-old relative of one of the officers into behaving.
Officers Rodney Sherman, 33 and Howard Vaughn, 29, handcuffed the boy with his mother's permission and took him to a wooded park. One of the officers waved the butt-end of his gun in the youth's face.
They then covered him with leaves and told him if he continued to misbehave that he might be left there for good, according to police.
"They thought they were doing the right thing, but used poor judgment," Chief Michael Matulavich said.
The incident happened in February but wasn't reported to police until November.
Matulavich said police supervisors considered firing the officers, but decided a lengthy suspension would be more appropriate.
He said they also consulted with prosecutors and decided criminal charges were not warranted, mainly because Sherman is related to the boy and the officers acted with the permission of the teen-ager's mother.
The mother told Sherman, who is her cousin, that she and her son had been in an argument. She asked Sherman to come over and talk to him.
Vaughn told investigators the plan was "to scare the juvenile into behaving properly."
Attorney Paul Buzzi, who represents the officers, said their intentions were good, though they may have taken their "scared straight" effort too far. He said both officers have exemplary records and that the incident has been blown out of proportion.
"These are two good cops who were trying to help a kid," Buzzi said. "The citizens ought to congratulate these two men for trying to help a young man who was headed for total disaster."
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)