By ED RUNYAN
The police officer who ordered boys age 10, 9 and 7 to the ground at gunpoint in their backyard on Sarkies Drive Northeast on March 26 said their behavior — “running, stumped down, trying to avoid detection” — suggested they might be committing a burglary.
Warren police Sgt. Jeff Hoolihan, in a memo to the department’s internal affairs officer, said he initially became suspicious of the boys while on patrol because he noticed the three running from the rear of a house on Sarkies toward Atlantic Street.
“Once the black males saw me, they ran back to the area of the house that they came from,” Hoolihan wrote.
“It appeared to me that there was a possible B&E in progress from the way that the black males were running stumped down, trying to avoid detection.”
After telling his dispatcher there was a breaking and entering in progress, he backed his cruiser on Belvedere and saw the three “run from the same area of the residence from the first time,” Hoolihan said.
That’s when Hoolihan exited his vehicle, “chased the black male suspects on foot,” drew his revolver and ordered them to the ground.
Sgt. Jeff Cole, internal affairs officer for the Warren Police Department, said his investigation of the incident is ongoing.
Hoolihan wrote the memo March 30 in response to a complaint the boys’ parents filed March 29 in which they accused Hoolihan of traumatizing their children for no good reason.
Hoolihan wrote that he holstered his revolver as soon as the boys got on the ground.
After questioning the boys and checking the contents of the black bag one of them was carrying, Anthony Simmons, the boys’ father, arrived and told Hoolihan that the boys were his sons, Hoolihan wrote.
“I explained to Mr. Simmons that there were numerous burglaries happening in the area, and everything needs to be checked out,” he wrote.
The complaint filed by Anthony and Carolyn Simmons, the boys’ parents, said the boys were in their own back yard and the incident left the boys “traumatized.”
The complaint said the parents initially wondered whether the boys had violated their parents’ rules about being in a neighbor’s yard and had been “startled” by seeing the officer.
The boys, however, later told their parents that they never noticed the officer until he was pointing a gun at them, the parents wrote in their complaint.
“My sons have walked the same route home every day for years, sometimes they run all the way home. 99 percent of the time, they have a book bag,” the Simmons complaint said.