Ohio Prosecutor Green Lights Felony Charges For Defying Stay-At-Home Order

“I don’t care. This is going to stop.” Joseph T. Deters, Prosecuting Attorney

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters on stay-at-home violators: ‘Sit your butt in a jail’

Fletcher Page, Cincinnati Enquirer Published 10:50 p.m. ET April 4, 2020 | Updated 1:34 a.m. ET April 5, 2020

Joe Deters didn’t hold back Saturday night when discussing his feelings for those who violate Ohio’s stay-at-home order.

In an interview on 700 WLW, the Hamilton County prosecutor said he’s “given the green light” to Sheriff Jim Neil to arrest and pursue felony charges.

“You are attempting, in my mind as a prosecutor, to commit serious physical harm to people and that is felonious assault,” Deters told Enquirer columnist Jason Williams, who was hosting the radio show. “So fine, sit your butt in a jail. You can sit there and kill yourself. I don’t care, but you’re not going to kill my kids and you’re not going to kill my neighbors’ kids. I’m done with this nonsense, so we’ll see what happens.”

On Saturday, police arrested Rashaan Davis, who posted a video to YouTube narrating a large gathering in Over-the-Rhine on Friday night.

Davis, 25, was charged with violating the order issued by the state health director requiring all persons to stay at home due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday announced the order would be extended through May 1.

People can be seen in videos standing on cars and dancing to music.

“I told the chief to charge him with felonious assault,” Deters said. “I don’t care. This is going to stop. I’m telling you, at least now the guy is going to stop.”

Deters, the former state treasurer, also didn’t mince words when asked about those gathering for social events, specifically for religious purposes.

“If I was the governor I would tell these churches, the first attendees at your church is going to be the National Guard because we are stopping this right now, OK,” Deters said. “We’re stopping it. No one is asking you not to pray to God. No one is asking you not to pray to Allah. No one is asking you not to pray. It can be done remotely. It’s not a problem, but if it applies to these kids in Over-the-Rhine, it should apply to those churches, too, and they need to just stop it.”

Deters said he had spoken to DeWine in recent days.

“He said to me, ‘As bad as you think it is, it’s worse,’ ” Deters said on 700 WLW. “It is so contagious, and it’s not just killing old people. It’s killing young people too, and to have the attitude of, you know, ‘F the virus, I don’t care, we’re going to have a party.’ OK, you’re putting everyone at risk.”

Deters said he had also talked with Sheriff Neil and Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac on Saturday. The consensus, according to Deters, is anyone found to be violating the stay-at-home mandate will be, “going to jail.”

“Look, I think everyone would agree: This is not pleasant for anyone,” Deters said. “I mean, I’m going crazy. I’m going nuts at home, but that’s what I think I have to do. I can make a phone call or talk to a judge or do what we’ve got to do, but I’m going to follow what Governor DeWine wants us to do, and these people that flaunt it and make fun of ii, I have absolutely no patience for.”


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