PROVIDENCE — As a light rain fell in the middle of the night in the small city of Troy, Ohio, sheriff’s deputies tried to stop a silver car that had reportedly been following and menacing an older couple for about 70 miles.
Police video obtained by the Globe shows that, at first, the silver car kept going, even as police vehicles followed with their lights flashing. But then the car, a 2017 Hyundai Elantra with Ohio plates, stopped at a flashing red light and a deputy approached the car.
“What are you doing?” he asked the driver. “Did you not see our lights? And you didn’t want to stop?”
The deputy began asking why the driver was following the other car. “You’ve been following them since Columbus, right? Why?” he asked. “Do you know them? Who is it? You are with them?”
The deputy asked the driver to step out of the car, and a man wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball cap and glasses stepped out, telling another deputy that his name was Michael.
The deputy asked, “So who are people you are following if you know them?”
“I’m running for Congress in Rhode Island,” the man replied. “I was on my way ... I just got in my car and was just riding.”
That scene is captured on body and dashboard camera video that the Globe requested from the Miami County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Office. It shows the moment, at about 2:45 a.m. on March 23, when deputies stopped a car driven by Michael Neary, a Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District in Rhode Island.
Neary, 28, was charged with menacing by stalking, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty. A pretrial conference took place Thursday, and another pretrial conference is set for June 2, according to court records.
Neary entered the congressional race in February after Democratic US Representative James R. Langevin announced he would not seek reelection.
Neary had previously worked for former Ohio Republican governor John Kasich, and he was working as a senior analyst at CVS Health. He was living in Columbus, Ohio, but described himself as a sixth-generation Rhode Islander who grew up in Coventry and West Warwick, and said he planned to move back to Coventry soon.
The video from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office shows that after Neary said he was running for Congress and out for a ride, the deputy asked again whether he knew the people he was following.
“Well, I thought I…” Neary said, and the rest of his response inaudible.
One deputy asked him to place his hands on the car so she could frisk him.
The deputy wearing the body camera then got in his vehicle and drove to the nearby Troy Police Department to meet the people who had called 911 to report being followed by the silver car.
Harold Poland, 65, and Candy Poland, 62, of New Carlisle, Ohio, approached the deputy outside the police station and began recounting their experience.
They said they had just flown in from Florida after visiting their son and his wife for a week, and they suspected the silver car began following them on Interstate 670 near the airport in Columbus.
“I thought that he just happened to be going the same way that we were,” Harold Poland said. “But it started getting kind of weird.”
He said he would let trucks pass him and slow down. “And I figured that this guy was going to go around also, but he just hung right with us,” he said.
They drove west on Interstate 70 to the city of Springfield, Ohio, and the silver car followed them a they turned onto Route 68 and then Route 41. “That even made it more weird,” he said.
When they reached North Hampton, Ohio, “we pretended like we were going pull over – like we were going home, like we lived in North Hampton – and he pulled right behind us,” he said. “I told Candy ‘I’m going to get out and see what he wants,’ and she said ‘No, don’t do that.’ So we drove off again, and he drove off with us.”
Just before they entered Miami County, the silver car pulled “right alongside of us” like he was going to pass, Harold Poland said. “So I slowed down, thinking he would go on around me, and he slowed down, too. And I put my window down and said ‘What do you want?’ ”
But he said the driver had music playing and mumbled a response Poland couldn’t hear.
“I don’t know what he wanted or who he was or anything,” he told the deputy. “Did he say anything, like why he was following us?”
The deputy said other officers were talking to Neary at that moment.
They then entered the police station so the Polands could provide a written statement.
“I have to calm down,” Candy Poland said after stepping into a conference room.
“Your cheeks are bright red,” her husband said.
“I’ve never had anything happen to me like that,” she said.
“This is almost like a movie,” Harold Poland said. “I’ve never had anybody pull up alongside of me since I was a teenager. At my age, I don’t need this kind of drama.”
Neary has said he plans to remain in the Rhode Island congressional race through the September primary. He has said he is seeking medical and mental health treatment and has been referred to a neurologist for “a possible non-epileptic seizure-related condition.”
On Wednesday, Neary tweeted, “Early this morning I went to the ER due to another seizure that I had while alone in my home. I still remain a candidate at this time while many conversations with family, friends, doctors and fellow Rhode Islanders are taking place before a further update can be provided.”
Early this morning I went to the ER due to another seizure that I had while alone in my home. I still remain a candidate at this time while many conversations with family, friends, doctors and fellow Rhode Islanders are taking place before a further update can be provided.— Neary For All 🇺🇦 (@MichaelNearyRI) April 27, 2022
On Thursday, when asked about police videos, Neary declined to comment. “No comment at this time,” he said. “It’s an ongoing legal matter.”
Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.