WARREN -- Testimony started this week in a civil trial naming Niles Police Chief Bruce Simeone as a defendant in a traffic fatality case.
The case was filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court in January 1997 by the crash victims' families. Mark Simpson's car was struck around 11 p.m. April 8, 1996, by an unmarked police car driven by then-Capt. Simeone, who was headed to the scene of a robbery and standoff at Ponderosa restaurant on U.S. Route 422.
Bronsel Cain, 29, of Howland, a passenger in Simpson's car, was killed in the crash, and Simpson, 30, of Warren, later died. Their car pulled onto Route 422 in the path of Simeone's car.
Investigators said Simeone's car had a flashing light and was following a marked cruiser at the time. Simeone has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing; this case centers on liability issues.
Visiting Judge Thomas Patrick Curran, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge, is presiding by special assignment of the state Supreme Court. Trumbull judges didn't want to handle the case because their regular working relationship with the chief and Niles police might create the appearance of conflict of interest.