Mom alleges inaction by police officer during robbery of son, files complaint

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


The mother of a teenage city boy says she wants justice for her son who was beaten and robbed downtown and punishment for an officer she says watched the attack take place and did not stop it.

Tennille Reeder, 34, of Youngstown, said her 14-year-old son went to the Covelli Centre to watch a series of basketball games last week. She said the boy wanted to dress up for the event and left the house wearing a gold chain with a Jesus charm valued at $800.

“I felt like he would be OK. He was going to the Covelli Centre. I would not let him wear that [chain] to some block party on Ravenwood [Avenue], but this was at the Covelli Centre,” the mother said.

Reeder told police her son was standing outside the building after the games when he was attacked by six young black males. She said her son was hit in the back of his head, and the gold chain was ripped from his neck. The assailants fled in an orange Jeep, she said.

According to Reeder, a Youngstown police officer was standing close by as her son was attacked and did not stop the robbery. He broke up the melee and let the group of assailants leave with the stolen chain, she said.

She filed a complaint with the internal-affairs department.

Lt. David McKnight of internal affairs would not discuss the complaint against the officer. He would confirm only that Reeder had in fact filed the complaint.

McKnight said it is a policy not to identify an officer after a complaint has been filed until the matter has been investigated so that the wrong officer is not identified.

“It is not uncommon for people to have the wrong officer and file a complaint. That is why I don’t release names. I do the whole investigation first and go from there,” he said.

Chief Jimmy Hughes said people sometimes confuse officers with security guards at such events, and therefore the matter should be thoroughly investigated first. He also said that if an officer was standing nearby during the incident, it is difficult for anyone to say what that officer actually did see take place.

McKnight said internal affairs is looking into the matter and should have some type of resolution by next week.

In the meantime, Reeder said she has been searching frantically to find out who is responsible for beating and robbing her son. She managed to find out that the Jesus charm had been pawned at a South Side pawn shop.

According to Officer Robert Lodwick, Reeder may soon get her wish for justice.

Lodwick said detectives have wrapped up the investigation and identified who they believe is responsible for the attack and robbery. He would not identify the suspects because charges have not officially been filed.

“There was a group of four involved, and we are ready to go to the prosecutor sometime Monday,” he said.

The incident at the center, Reeder said, is not the first time a chain similar to the one stolen has caused the family grief. She said her brother was killed over an identical chain in 2002.

According to Vindicator files, Andre Reeder was shot and killed on the city’s North Side by someone with whom he had been friends. Reports say Reeder, 17, was to meet with William Staten, 18, to exchange an unidentified object, but Staten ultimately shot and killed Reeder.

Tennille Reeder said the object being exchanged was a gold chain identical to the one stolen from her son.

Staten was later convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Reeder said she is happy the situation involving her son was not more severe. The arrests of the suspects, she said, would bring more comfort.

“I am happy with it but still upset because if the officer had done his job, it wouldn’t have gotten this far,” she said.

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