Charge amended after 2 cops are fired



A paraplegic whose allegations of police brutality led to the firing of two city police officers has pleaded no contest to an amended charge of having physical control of a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Willie Daniel, 36, of High Street, entered his plea Monday before Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr. of municipal court, who will sentence him at 9 a.m. Sept. 24.

Daniel originally was charged with drunken driving, but the prosecution amended the charge to having physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Like the original charge, the amended charge is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Daniel’s blood-alcohol content registered 0.152, which is nearly twice the legal driving limit of 0.08, said John Marsh, an assistant city prosecutor.

Although police found Willie Daniel behind the wheel after an accident, Kenneth Daniel said he, not his paralyzed brother, was driving the SUV in the Feb. 27 single-vehicle crash, in which the SUV ran into a fence in the 700 block of Wilson Avenue.

The amended charge states that Willie Daniel possessed the vehicle keys and was in a position to drive the vehicle, but it does not require the prosecution to prove that he was actually driving, Marsh said.

In the plea deal, Marsh dropped charges of driving under license suspension and reckless operation against Willie Daniel.

The plea agreement in the criminal case is a step toward resolution of a claim that was to appear in a civil lawsuit Willie Daniel had threatened to file against the city concerning the alleged police misconduct, city Prosecutor Jay Macejko said.

Willie Daniel complained that a police officer dragged him out of the SUV, punched him and left him lying face- down in the snow.

After an internal-affairs investigation, Police Chief Jimmy Hughes fired Officer Robert Jolliff, alleged ot have assaulted Daniel, and Officer Jay Fletcher, alleged to have neglected his duty to render proper assistance at the accident scene.

Jolliff and Fletcher are appealing their terminations.

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