MAHONING COUNTY Man drops suit against officers



The lawsuit was filed after the Youngstown man was cleared of charges that he shot at two police officers.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A city man has dropped his lawsuit in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court against the police officers who arrested him after he was accused of shooting at them, but no one's saying why.
"I am not at liberty to divulge that," said Atty. Don L. Hanni Jr. He and Atty. David Betras had filed the suit in August on behalf of Newell Spann of East Auburndale Avenue.
Betras also declined to comment, as did Prosecutor Paul Gains, who represented the officers and Sheriff Randall Wellington.
Spann, 26, of Franklin Avenue, sued Wellington, deputy sheriff John Beshara and Patrolman Michael Cox of the Youngstown Police Department in August. Besides being a deputy sheriff, Beshara is a special deputy U.S. marshal.
About the suit
Spann filed the suit after a jury in U.S. District Court, Youngstown, found him innocent of assaulting a federal officer and using a firearm during a crime of violence.
The charges stemmed from a shootout between Spann and Beshara in 2002. Beshara was sitting with Cox in an unmarked cruiser. Neither was in uniform and they were wearing winter coats that covered their police badges and shirts.
The officers said they saw Spann and believed he was someone else, for whom they had an arrest warrant. When they tried to stop him, guns were pulled and shots were fired. No one was hit. They did not identify themselves as police officers.
Thought they were robbers
Hanni said Spann did not realize the men were police officers and thought they were going to rob him.
The suit says Cox roughed up Spann during the arrest and that Beshara violated his civil rights by shooting at him. Hanni said at the time that it seemed to be a case of racial profiling because Spann is black and the officers are white.
The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, which means it can be refiled within a year, but Betras said there are no plans to do that. He would not comment further.
Before the federal charges were brought against Spann, he had been indicted on similar charges by a county grand jury. Gains dismissed those charges at the request of federal agents so they could take him to trial under federal charges.
Gains said he won't refile the state charges because there is no additional evidence to present in common pleas court than was offered in Spann's federal trial.
"He's already been acquitted by one jury," Gains said. "There is no reason for us to believe that another jury wouldn't acquit him again."
bjackson@vindy.com

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