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Lawyer seeks a probe of cops' actions



Published: Fri, March 21, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



City officials will cooperate fully with any investigations, the law director says.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- The FBI has been asked to investigate allegations of police misconduct stemming from last weekend's melee downtown.

A letter was sent by Atty. Maridee Costanzo on Thursday to FBI Special Agent Gerald Mack, who oversees the Northern District of Ohio, asking for an immediate investigation.

Mack could not be reached to comment.

"An incident took place Saturday, March 15, in downtown Warren outside the Comfort Inn," Costanzo's letter states. "A group of youngsters were grouped together after leaving a party that was held at the inn. Police officers from the city of Warren confronted these youngsters. Several were arrested and have made statements about how they were treated during the incident."

The letter also notes that the police chief has made statements, saying his officers acted properly.

"Eyewitness statements contradict this account," Costanzo stated.

Arrested teen

Costanzo represents Michael Simpson Jr., 19, of Warren, who was arrested on charges of inciting violence and resisting arrest. He has pleaded innocent and his free on a $1,000 bond. Simpson said he was hit in the head by a police officer while he was on the ground and handcuffed.

Costanzo said there are others who were in the crowd who have verified Simpson's allegations.

"We need to look into these very serious allegations," Costanzo said. "My client was walking a girl to her car after the party let out. There was no reason to beat him."

Police say about 100 to 150 people -- mostly teenagers -- spilled onto North Park Avenue early Saturday after a birthday party ended at the Comfort Inn. Police reports state there were many fights and yelling when officers arrived. Police arrested seven juveniles and Simpson.

Ajit Patel, owner of the hotel, said the birthday party was for a teenager and no alcohol was served. He said a fight started outside when teenagers who were not invited showed up.

Promising to cooperate

"We will cooperate with any and all investigations," said Greg Hicks, city law director. Mayor Hank Angelo and Police Chief John Mandopoulos concurred with Hicks.

"Maridee can call the FBI, CIA and the DEA if she wants to," the chief said. "No one is above due process -- we are not, and the citizens are not."

He added that he thinks Angelo and Fred Harris, the city's safety-service director, and the press have taken the sides of the individuals.

The mayor said he has not made any conclusion on the matter.

"I wasn't surprised that Maridee asked for this investigation because she pinpoints that the chief has stated that his officers acted properly," Angelo said. "It's regretful that any conclusion has been reached without an investigation."

sinkovich@vindy.com




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