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POLICE Struthers fires cop implicated in Jan. 1 melee



Published: Wed, January 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Struthers' mayor said the decision Tuesday was necessary to show that the city won't tolerate such behavior.

STRUTHERS -- The city has fired a police officer accused of instigating the beating of two men at his house on New Year's Day.

The allegations that Xavier Young led a gang of early-morning partiers in beating the men unconscious were accurate based on an internal police probe, said Campbell Mayor Jack Dill.

Dill, at the invitation of Struthers officials, presided over the Jan. 13 disciplinary hearing to air the allegations.

Young's unwillingness to defend himself at the closed-door hearing was a factor in his conclusion, the mayor said.

The city also accused Young of allowing minors to drink alcohol at his Fifth Street house during the New Year's party.

Decision

Struthers Safety Director John Sveda decided to fire Young, and notified him in a letter.

"In addition to violating numerous department rules and regulations," Sveda wrote in a denunciation of Young's behavior, "you violated your oath of office and the public trust bestowed upon you. Your conduct has cast a shadow over this entire department, and it may be awhile before the public gains trust in us."

Struthers Mayor Dan Mamula said he hoped the termination helps restore trust in the police department.

"It's critical that the public finds the police force credible," Mamula said. "Policemen have to recognize, on or off duty, that they have awesome power."

City officials placed Young on administrative leave pending the internal investigation and hearing.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation is conducting a separate probe that could lead to charges against Young.

Struthers police are investigating the involvement of as many as 25 partiers. No other Struthers officers were involved, Sveda said.

What happened

Police say Young hosted a New Year Eve's party that around 2 a.m. erupted into a melee he instigated.

One of the brothers, Jason Scott of Marine City, Mich., was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center for head injuries. Doctors since have released him.

His brother, Shawn Scott of Struthers, suffered injuries but was not hospitalized.

While there are varying accounts, police report the brothers showed up at the party to retrieve the teen daughter of a girlfriend of one of them.

After a shouting match, Young began choking Jason Scott, and when Shawn Scott tried to pull off Young, the mob attacked the brothers, according to police reports.

Young's wife maintains the melee began after one of the brothers pushed her. She contended her husband was not at fault.

Hard choices

Firing a police officer is no fun task, Mamula said.

"It's unfortunate, and it's regrettable," the mayor said. "I'm saddened that the action had to be taken. This is never pleasant or never expected."

The decision, he said, was necessary to send a strong signal that the city won't tolerate such behavior: "We felt we had to set an example to show we were proactive."




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