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YOUNGSTOWN Man's trial ends in verdict of innocence



Published: Fri, August 23, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defendant said he didn't have $3,500 to pay a lawyer.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Curtis M. Bryant Jr. owes his freedom to subsection C of the Ohio Revised Code that deals with impersonating a police officer.

After a bench trial Thursday in municipal court, Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly found Bryant, 58, of St. Louis Avenue innocent of violating the C section of the code.

"The evidence clearly -- again -- establishes that you are impersonating a police officer and you are not a police officer," the judge said. "If charged under subsection B, I would have found you guilty."

The judge's "again" reference was to Bryant's conviction in September 2001 on a charge of performing security services without a license. Judge Kobly placed him on one year of nonreporting probation. The case is under appeal.

Details of code

Ohio Revised Code 2921.51 subsection C states that "no person, by impersonating a peace officer or a private police officer, shall arrest or detain any person, search any person, or search the property of any person."

Subsection B of the code forbids anyone from impersonating a peace officer or a private police officer.

Evidence at trial showed only that Bryant, dressed in a constable uniform and wearing a gun, was standing in the parking lot of a South Side bar providing security when arrested July 13. His overall appearance was that of a police officer, according to testimony.

The city prosecutor's office determined the subsection charged. Michael J. Krause, an assistant city prosecutor, said he would check out what happened.

Bryant is employed by Ohio State Police Constable Service on Logan Avenue, operated by La-Roi Dock. Dock contends that his incorporation with the state gives his employees police powers.

Constables, who were once appointed by county judges and had limited powers within the judge's jurisdiction, have no police powers in Youngstown.

Three more of Dock's employees charged with impersonating police officers have trials set for October. Last September, Dock was convicted of performing security service without a license and placed on one year probation. He has appealed the decision.

During the trial

Bryant showed up Thursday for trial without a lawyer, for the second time. The trial had originally been set for last month. He explained that he couldn't pay $3,500 the lawyer wanted. Bryant then told Judge Kobly he wanted a court-appointed lawyer and a jury trial.

The judge denied his request, saying he has a business.

The prosecution's first witness, Patrolman Frank Rutherford, then testified to what happened July 13 at the Classique Lounge on South Avenue.

Rutherford said Bryant professed to have the same powers as city police and showed his Ohio State Police Constable identification card. Bryant, the officer said, had no "green card," which identifies the holder as a licensed security guard.

Krause asked if Bryant mentioned his previous conviction.

Rutherford said he did, but that it was under appeal, which permitted him to continue to work.

Bryant had no questions for Rutherford or Detective Sgt. Brad Blackburn. The detective testified that Bryant has no peace officer training certificate and is not licensed as a security guard.

Bryant, who maintains he is a private police officer, told Judge Kobly that he was providing security in the parking lot. He said he needed the work because he got behind in his utility bills.

meade@vindy.com




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