The jurors were sent back to do more work before their verdict was read.
WARREN -- A jury found that Niles Police Chief Bruce Simeone is liable in a fatal traffic crash.
Trumbull County Common Pleas Court jurors returned a judgment Wednesday afternoon for the plaintiffs, finding wanton misconduct and willful misconduct.
The case dealt only with civil liability issues. A grand jury previously found no criminal wrongdoing by the chief.
A hearing is scheduled for April 18 to determine monetary damages.
The civil case against Simeone, Niles police and the city centered on an April 8, 1996, accident.
Simeone, who then was a captain, was on his way to a hostage situation at the former Ponderosa Restaurant on U.S. Route 422 when his cruiser collided with a Corvette pulling from a parking lot on Route 422 a short distance from the restaurant.
Two occupants of the car, Bronsel Cain Jr., 29, and Mark Simpson, 30, died of their injuries, and their families claimed negligence.
Issues of Simeone's speed in the unmarked cruiser were raised at trial. The vehicle had a siren and an emergency light.
Reaching a verdict
The jury first had came to the courtroom at noon with its verdict, but was sent back to its chambers for more consideration. This followed about 15 minutes of hushed bench conferences among attorneys and the judge.
"Go back and you revisit anything you wish to revisit from beginning to end," Judge Thomas Patrick Curran told the five men and three women.
Simeone sat in the courtroom in his police uniform.
The bench conference and Judge Curran's subsequent discussion with jurors centered on the consistency of the jury's findings, based on a scale of conduct from least to most severe: negligence, recklessness, wanton misconduct or willful misconduct.
Judge Curran is from Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Simeone and Niles were represented by Atty. Nick Tomino; the Cain and Simpson families by Curtis Ambrosy and Patrick Fire, respectively.