KIMBLE TRIAL 'Force will not be an issue'
A dozen protesters marched in the rain in front of the courthouse.
WARREN -- The trial of a city man accused of possessing cocaine will proceed with no mention to jurors of excessive police force and no viewing of the controversial videotaped arrest.
Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court made rulings Monday before jury selection in the case of Lyndal Kimble, who also is charged with tampering with evidence.
But because the prosecution on Monday dismissed the charge of assault on a police officer, excessive force is no longer an issue, the judge said. Diane Barber, assistant prosecutor, declined to say before trial why the charge had been dropped.
'Little or no' value
Also, Judge McKay said the video of Kimble's arrest, shown on national news last summer, held "little or no" value to the case -- though he said he might revisit that ruling later. For now he believes it would mislead or prejudice the jury.
Kimble, of Kenilworth Avenue Southeast, was stopped by police in his driveway after he failed to signal a right turn at Colonial Street Southeast and Niles Road at 1 p.m. June 28, 2003. A bystander videotaped the traffic stop and Kimble's subsequent arrest. It shows three officers struggling with Kimble, with one of the officers throwing him on a cruiser and then to the ground.
Police said Kimble, 29 at the time, swallowed a small bag of suspected drugs before resisting the officers, who were trying to get him to spit out the evidence. Kimble had more than $2,000 on him when he was arrested, reports state.
Judge McKay had previously viewed the video during an earlier evidence suppression hearing; a DVD said to contain the arrest video was scratched and would not play for the court Monday.
At one point the defendant tried to get the DVD player and monitor to work.
Outside in the rain Monday, about a dozen protesters who said they were from Warren, Youngstown, Akron and Cleveland marched with signs that read, "Hold the city and police accountable," "Justice" and "Defend all victims of Warren police conduct." They were interviewed by Valley and Cleveland television stations.
Warren police and county deputy sheriffs generally kept a low profile; unmarked city vehicles were parked at the county jail across from the courthouse.
Peter Hornbuckle of Warren said he's been following Kimble's case in newspapers and, upon learning there'd be a protest Monday, "had to come and support it." It was promoted on the Web site of the Cleveland Independent Media Center and others.
Inside the courtroom, Judge McKay laid out his findings to Kimble's lawyer, Richard Olivito.
"Excessive force will not be an issue in this case," the judge said. It's not to be mentioned during jury selection or opening and closing arguments. "It's not relevant to tampering with evidence and/or possession of cocaine."
Video or DVD
As for the video or DVD, Barber told the court that there has been no copy provided to her office that includes sound, and there has been no opportunity to review the original version for any evidence of tampering.
"I think this is a late shot of trying to exclude the evidence as a unique experience," Olivito said, maintaining both the city police and prosecution have good copies of the tape.
"I am going to limit you now and tell you not to bring it up," Judge McKay told Olivito. "When you get the actual item that you intend to introduce into evidence, then I will make an inspection, away from the jury."
The trial is expected to last two days, once a jury is seated.
Kimble previously was convicted in May 2000 of trafficking in crack cocaine.