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YOUNGSTOWN Man in police scuffle is upgraded to 'serious'



Published: Tue, August 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Booker Mitchell's stepdaughter said he suffered a stroke the morning after his arrest.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A 72-year-old man hospitalized after his arrest last month is no longer in critical condition, a Forum Health spokeswoman said.

Booker Mitchell's sister-in-law Rose Jordan, however, said he is still in a coma, adding, "To us, it's critical."

The hospital spokeswoman said Mitchell's condition at Forum Health Northside Medical Center was recently upgraded from critical to serious. Mitchell has been in a coma since July 13.

Officer Michael Walker arrested Mitchell on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing official business and resisting arrest.

Police reports say Mitchell argued with Walker that afternoon about having a car towed after an accident in a parking lot on North Garland Avenue. Mitchell's relatives say Walker, without provocation, beat Mitchell during the arrest. Walker said he used pepper spray before placing handcuffs on Mitchell.

Youngstown police and the local NAACP chapter have been investigating the arrest. Neither police Chief Richard Lewis nor Willie Oliver, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, could be reached to comment Monday.

Jordan said her family doesn't have any new information about the investigation.

What reports say: Police reports say that Mitchell repeatedly swore at Walker, who then placed a "firm hand" on Mitchell and told him he was under arrest.

Mitchell "lashed back," the reports say, and a struggle ensued. Both men fell to the ground.

Mitchell was pepper-sprayed, handcuffed and taken to jail.

Relatives said that Mitchell couldn't walk when he was released from jail later that evening and that he was carried into the jail lobby by two deputy sheriffs. Relatives said the jail staff wouldn't call an ambulance.

Release from jail: Maj. Michael Budd of the sheriff's department has said Mitchell told a deputy he felt lightheaded when he was released from the jail.

The family asked the deputy to call 911 for an ambulance. Budd said the deputy called for his supervisor, who brought along a nurse. They arrived within 20 to 30 seconds, Budd said.

The family, by this time, was calling 911 on a pay phone, the major said. Budd has said an investigation by the sheriff's department recently concluded that the jail staff acted correctly in its treatment of Mitchell.

Dennise Pennington, Mitchell's stepdaughter, has said Mitchell suffered a stroke the morning after the arrest and doctors had to perform emergency surgery to stop the bleeding around his brain.

Those doctors have been too busy caring for Mitchell to determine if the stroke could be linked to the confrontation with the police officer, Pennington said.

hill@vindy.com




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