EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — A case that took six years to get to trial may soon be in the hands of a jury.
The prosecution in the case against Cleveland Police Sgt. Patricia Coleman rested Wednesday and the defense is expected to present their side Friday.
The jury was not in the courtroom Thursday as Defense Atty. Kevin Spellacy argued to have the case dismissed, mainly due to the statements made by East Cleveland Capt. Scott Gardner Wednesday.
Gardner, the officer who signed the charges filed against Coleman, testified he was asked to sign the paperwork but knew nothing about them.
Gardner admitted during the third day of trial that an assistant county prosecutor wanted the charges filed against five Cleveland supervisors involved in the November 2012 chase, so he signed the paperwork but stressed he had no direct knowledge of any criminal conduct by any of the defendants.
East Cleveland Prosecutor Willa Hemmons argued the officer acted properly by filing the charges when asked by the assistant prosecutor .
Gardner testified under oath that his part of the investigation dealt with the fatal shooting that took place in East Cleveland following the Cleveland police chase. He said he reviewed those notes but had no knowledge of any criminal acts by the supervisors.
Coleman is facing misdemeanor dereliction of duty charges for failing to properly supervise her subordinates’ traffic violations.
When asked under direct examination by Atty. Kevin Spellacy if he had any evidence that Coleman violated the laws she is charged with Gardner said “I do not, no.”
“While Criminal Rule 3 does not reference personal knowledge, the oath or affirmation of the Complaint requires some knowledge of the violation,” Spellacy’s motion for dismissal stated.
East Cleveland Judge William Dawson disagreed and ruled against the dismissal.
Coleman is facing a charge of dereliction of duty in connection with the chase that ended in East Cleveland with two unarmed suspects being killed. There were nearly 100 police officers involved in the chase.
Coleman is not one of the officers who fired shots at the suspects.
Spellacy also stressed that not one of the prosecutors witnesses said Coleman did anything wrong.
Spellacy also brought up that Hemmons dismissed three of the supervisors’ charges after they agreed to make a $2,500 donation to the East Cleveland law enforcement trust fund.
“It’s extortion,” Spellacy said.
Hemmons declined to comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, the attorney for the other supervisor facing similar charges in East Cleveland filed a motion Thursday to have Officer Randolph Dailey’s case dismissed.
Atty. Henry Hilow filed the motion Thursday saying the charge should be dismissed due to “severe prosecutorial misconduct” by East Cleveland Law Director Willa Hemmons.
“Ms. Hemmons would only allow for the dismissal of the charges on the sole condition that the defendants pay a cash sum to the City of East Cleveland,” Hilow’s motion stated. “Her initial demand was $5,000 per defendant.”
Hilow’s motion also states that Hemmons improperly used “Garrity statements.” A Garrity statement is a statement given to internal affairs.
Hilow states that a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Garrity v. New Jersey prohibits Garrity statements from being used in criminal proceedings.
“The State of Ohio is not permitted to make direct or derivative use of a public employee’s compelled statement in a criminal action under any circumstances,” Hilow wrote in his motion.
East Cleveland Law Director Willa Hemmons maintains she acted properly.