Internal affairs clears Warren police officers
The probe centered on four arrests made after a break-in March 2.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- City police officers did use force when they arrested four people in March but there is no conclusive evidence indicating excessive force was used, an internal affairs report states.
The report, written by Lt. Thomas Skoczylas, states Police Officer Emanuel Nites and other officers at the scene March 2 were justified in their actions and should be exonerated.
The four arrested -- Brett Hemberger, Meghan A. Collins, Jason A. Mills and Mark Mills -- filed complaints with the internal affairs department alleging excessive force. The four also filed a $2 million lawsuit alleging excessive force. That suit is still pending in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
The arrests were made after a break-in at an Enterprise Drive Northwest construction site and a subsequent chase. A facility for the Trumbull-Geauga Solid Waste District is under construction there.
Too much force?
"While the complainants and witnesses giving statements in their behalf all state that the complainants were beaten, and officers used too much force, the officers side of the story is that enough force was used to overcome resistance," Skoczylas' report states.
The report further notes that the officers were making arrests and were met with resistance.
"The officers involved do not deny striking the complainants during the arrests," Skoczylas states in the report. "Officers are permitted to use force to overcome resistance by law."
The lawsuit states Nites and an unidentified officer hit Jason Mills after he was handcuffed. Mills states in the lawsuit he was beaten with flashlights. The suit says Mills suffered multiple fractures of his arm.
The lawsuit further says Nites struck Hemberger in the back of the head and other officers kicked him and beat him with flashlights.
Facing other charges
Hemberger, 23, of North River Road, Warren, is facing charges of breaking and entering, resisting arrest and assault on a peace officer. He was located in the crawl space of the building, "where he actively resisted arrest, refusing to give the officer his hands and striking the officer several times during the struggle," the Warren city police report states.
The police report further states that Nites and Hemberger fell through the ceiling. After the fall, Hemberger continued to resist arrest, the report states. Nites was taken to the hospital by officer Ed Hetmanski and was kept there several days because of internal injuries. Hemberger was treated at the hospital.
Jason A. Mills, 21, of Hall Road, Andover, was charged with breaking and entering, resisting arrest and falsification. He was located in an upstairs loft apartment, and gave police false information as they tried to identify him, the report says.
Collins, 18, of Evans Street, Niles, and Mark Mills, 23, of Cherry Street, Newton Falls, both face charges of obstructing justice.