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Witness accuses police of ignoring fights



Published: Fri, January 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A party at a fired officer's house leads to alcohol charges against teens.

STRUTHERS -- A witness to the group beating of two brothers at a cop's house New Year's Day claims police waited about 40 minutes before responding to the melee.

Police Chief Robert Norris denied the allegation.

Jessica R. Dyce, 24, said a dispatcher at Struthers Police Department, where the officer, Xavier Young, worked until the city fired him Tuesday, hung up the phone and didn't send help until after several more calls.

Had police responded immediately, Dyce said, they could have prevented the second of two fights outside Young's 549 Fifth St. house. In the second fight, which broke out about five minutes after a shorter brawl, about 25 partiers kicked and punched Shawn Scott, 37, and his brother Jason, 26, until they were unconscious, Dyce said.

"When I called the police department and said Officer Young was fighting, they hung up on me right away," said Dyce, whose mother's boyfriend is Shawn Scott. "If the police would have been there sooner, the fight probably wouldn't have happened."

Police procedure probe

The melee sent Jason Scott, of Marine City, Mich., to St. Elizabeth Health Center for a week with head and back injuries. Shawn Scott, who suffered minor injuries, lives with Dyce and her mother, across an alley from Young's house and about eight blocks from the Police Department.

Mayor Dan Mamula said the city is investigating the matter, along with police procedure in handling the Fifth Street beating.

Mamula declined to elaborate, other than saying the probe "is under review" and "customary" following cases of this magnitude.

The first patrol car reached the scene fewer than three minutes after the first call, 2:38 a.m., Norris said..

Dyce maintains she called around 2 a.m.

"The answer to this is plain and simple," Norris said. "The officers were there in a matter of minutes."

Norris said the dispatcher, which handles 911 calls from the police station, "was inundated with calls" about the fight, spawning "a chaotic few minutes for the dispatcher."

Callers disconnected?

"Apparently it sounds like one or two of the callers ... got disconnected, and because of that were given the impression that no one was being sent," said Norris, adding the dispatcher immediately sent officers in spite of the disconnection.

Norris added he has received no complaints from Dyce or others about the department's handling of the case.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation is conducting a separate probe into the brawl, but it's unclear whether that includes the police department's response.

The city fired Young on Tuesday after an internal investigation and discipline hearing.

Witnesses said the fights erupted outside Young's house, where he was hosting a New Year's Eve party.

Dyce said one of Young's sons picked a fight with Jason Scott as he was checking on Dyce's 13-year-old sister, who was at the party. Moments later, Dyce said, the officer raced out his house, tackled the younger Scott and began choking him, Dyce said. When Shawn Scott tried to pull off Young, about 25 partiers charged the brothers, Dyce said.

Juvenile partiers

That's when Dyce said she called police. A few minutes later, she said, the fight broke up, but just as quickly the mob returned, knocking down the Scotts and kicking them.

This lasted "a good half-hour, 45 minutes," Dyce said.

A police report says the fight lasted 10 minutes.

When police arrived, they found the Scotts unconscious in the gravel alley, with Jason Scott "bleeding profusely from the head," a police report states.

Police identified at least 11 children under the age of 16 at the party, and the city accused Young of allowing minors to drink.

Public Safety Director John Sveda said "charges have been filed" against juveniles who were at the house, but he declined to elaborate until the investigators complete their work.




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