SUSPENSION Officer's timeout reversed
Another officer who was suspended will get a hearing this month.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- An arbiter has ordered that Patrolman Frank Bigowsky's five-day suspension be erased because the officer did not use excessive force during an arrest but, in fact, showed restraint.
"We're very happy with the decision," Patrolman Kevin Bokesch, Youngstown Police Association president, said Thursday. "We try to do our job within the guidelines set for use of force. The arbitrator showed that the force used was less than could have been used."
Bigowsky, 29, was hired in December 2001. His pay loss from the suspension, taken in May, was around $750.
The arbiter, who based his decision on expert testimony, ordered that the suspension be removed from Bigowsky's personnel file. The officer will also recoup the pay he lost.
A hearing is scheduled for later this month for Patrolman James Welch III, 32, who was also suspended five days for the same event. Bigowsky and Welch filed a grievance over the suspensions.
On Jan. 24, officers assigned to the Street Crimes Unit attempted to stop a car in the Glenwood Avenue area on the South Side. The driver failed to stop and police pursued the car to the North Side, near Seneca Avenue, where the driver and a passenger jumped out and ran in opposite directions. The driver got away.
Patrolmen Doug Pesa and Frank Rutherford caught up with the passenger, Marcus Kennon, 29, of Clyde Street, and forced him to the ground.
Kennon kicked Pesa and refused to remove his hands from under his body so that he could be handcuffed, records state. Pesa tried to control Kennon's left arm and Rutherford concentrated on gaining control of Kennon's right arm.
Welch and Bigowsky arrived to assist.
Bigowsky, seeing the struggle, kicked Kennon "two to four times in the left arm and abdomen to encourage him to remove his arms from under his body," the arbiter wrote in his report.
More force allowed
The arbiter's report shows that, in the expert's view, kicking was appropriate and Bigowsky could have used more force, such as his baton or a "sleeper hold," which applies pressure to the side of the neck. The fact that he did not showed restraint.
Records show that Welch used a fist to strike Kennon numerous times in the head and face. A detective arrived and told Bigowsky and Welch to "knock it off," and they stopped.
A relative of Kennon's filed the complaint against Welch and Bigowsy, and the Internal Affairs Division investigated it.
In February, Kennon pleaded no contest to charges of resisting arrest and obstructing official business. Municipal Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly gave him credit for five days in jail.
His fines and costs in the case total $139. As of Thursday, he had not paid.
Municipal court records also show that Kennon still owes $240 in fines and costs from November 2001, when he was convicted of driving with a suspended license. In February 2001, he was convicted of theft and received five days in jail. He still owes $30 in that case.