CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The man accused of being behind a YouTube video showing a large gathering in Over-the-Rhine no longer is facing a charge of violating the state’s stay-at-home order.
On Wednesday, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office requested the misdemeanor charge against Rashaan Davis be dropped, and Judge Alan Triggs agreed.
A felony charge of inciting violence is still pending against Davis.
Videos of last Friday’s crowd surfaced all over social media by Saturday morning, showing large groups flouting social distancing rules, including some standing on cars and dancing to music.
“This is how we do it in my city, man,” Davis is accused of saying in one of the videos. “We don’t give a f*** about this coronavirus.”
Cincinnati police wrote in the criminal complaint this “is egregious” because Davis “publicly acknowledged the COVID-19 pandemic and incited others to violate the ‘Stay At Home’ order via a ten minute YouTube posting.”
“In the video, (Davis) narrates a video of himself and others openly defying the order, causing even greater risk of contamination during this national health crisis,” Lt. David Schofield wrote in the court record.
Defense attorney Clyde Bennett countered in court Wednesday: “The defendant didn’t do anything but record activity in his neighborhood.”
Bennett said he knows 95 percent of white people who face charges for violating the stay-at-home order have been allowed to go home until their trials begin. He accused the city of playing politics.
Municipal court Judge Alan C. Triggs said he didn’t see any reason to treat Davis’s case any differently from other non-violent misdemeanor cases where defendants were released on their own recognizance.
That is when the city’s attorney told the judge they would drop the charge against Davis and instead focus on the felony charge of inciting violence.
Davis is expected to get released from the Hamilton County Justice Center and be placed on house arrest. If he’s caught violating the judge’s orders, he will be placed back in jail on a $200,000 bond.
Last week, court records showed 22 people in Hamilton County have been charged in connection with violating Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order.
They are facing misdemeanor charges of “violations prohibited," according to the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts.
Many people who were charged with violating the stay-at-home order were being investigated by police and charged with unrelated crimes.
Mayor John Cranley said in the city’s Wednesday COVID-19 briefing Deters arrived at the decision to drop the misdemeanor charge in concert with City Solicitor Paula Boggs Muething.
In the same briefing, the mayor called enforcing the statewide stay-at-home order “complicated,” “difficult,” “confusing" and “a work in progress.”
Police officers have the ability to arrest individuals for violating the order, Cranley said, “but in many cases, as with Mr. Davis, other charges can and will be brought that are far more serious than whether they violated one of our executive orders.”