Ex Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper Bryan Lee, the married father of three children under the age of six, is Exhibit A for mandatory wearing of body cameras and mics.
Bryan Lee is also Exhibit A for making sure any member of law enforcement who turns off a camera or microphone during a stop – should be fired.
It’s not enough to equip officers with body cameras and mics. Those who attempt to hide their crimes should be dealt with swiftly.
Meanwhile, Ex Ohio State Highway Patrolman Bryan Lee is off to federal prison, for sex crimes and stalking.
Why it took so long
Worse? Although one of Lee’s victims, “NS” reported Lee’s crimes to Lee’s superiors, the police chose to believe Lee and wanted the DA to charge NS with making a false police report. The DA considered it, but ultimately, gave Lee the choice in whether or not NS should be prosecuted. They did so knowing the national problem of “Driving While Female” was first detailed in a 2002 report. (I won’t get into the police not processing rape kits.)
Because of the DA’s decision, Lee was able to continue his sex crime spree, with impunity for two additional years.
This decision was made by the DA although the DA knew that earlier in 2009, Lee turned off his body microphone during a traffic stop of two off duty police officers who were clocked going more than 100 miles per hour down Interstate 70, according to the patrol.
As Laura Bischoff detailed in the Dayton Daily News: Within four years of joining the Ohio Highway Patrol, Bryan Lee was committing sex crimes on women drivers, and stalking some on Facebook.
Nov. 19, 2010: Lee responded to a car wreck involving victim “NS,” who failed field sobriety tests. Lee turned off his body microphone, groped NS’s breasts while she was handcuffed and rubbed his genitals against her. He drove her home and released her to her mother.
Nov. 21, 2010: Lee stopped “KD” for speeding and found she was driving without a valid license and had a warrant for her arrest. He told the male passenger to walk to the nearest rest stop. Lee groped KD’s breasts and cited her for traffic offenses but did not charge her for pills and drug paraphernalia found during the stop. Lee later stalked KD on Facebook, demanding naked pictures of her.
March 22, 2012: Lee cited “JE” for speeding and then pulled her over a second time because she was upset and crying. JE sat in Lee’s patrol car and allowed him to take a cell phone photo of her topless. Lee convinced her to drive to an abandoned gas station where they had sex. Lee then tore up the speeding ticket. JE and Lee later had a consensual relationship until she discovered on Facebook that Lee was married.
Sept. 8, 2013: Lee flirted with two women on a traffic stop. He turned off his mic, allowed the driver to drive despite showing signs of impairment, and put the passenger, “TF,” in his patrol car. He took a photo of himself touching TF’s breasts and later stalked her on Facebook. A month later, TF was again a passenger during a drunken driving stop by Lee. Lee ticketed the driver for misdemeanor violations and didn’t make a drunken driving arrest. TF walked home.
Nov. 4, 2013: Lee resigned from the patrol.
Oct. 29, 2014: Lee pleaded guilty to federal charges of cyberstalking and violating the civil rights of four victims.
More scary than that?
Lee comes from a long line of law enforcement.
Father: A retired highway patrol sergeant
Siblings: Three brothers are currently law enforcement officers. Two brothers are troopers; and a third is a Lancaster police officer. He is married and a father of three children under the age of 6. Family members wrote letters of support, saying he “is a good person who lacked the self-esteem, self-discipline and self-awareness necessary to abstain from acting on his sexual compulsions with women that he met in the course and scope of his employment with the Ohio State Highway Patrol,” according to court filings from Lee’s lawyer.
Lee’s family cried at sentencing. Lee will be required to wear a GPS and seek sex offender counseling upon his release.
As noted in my last column, the need for body cameras signals a canary in the coal mine dynamic. Better hiring standards and civilian oversight is sorely needed.