By jeanne starmack
A woman shot during a scuffle with a court bailiff remains in jail, and the bailiff remains on the job while police continue to investigate the shooting.
Campbell Detective Sgt. John Rusnak said he has obtained a written statement from bailiff James Cioffi about the shooting of Angela Trice-Harris, 29, of Youngstown.
Rusnak has not interviewed Trice-Harris yet, he said. She spent four days at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown and was taken March 9 to the Mahoning County jail, where she remains in lieu of $51,000 in bonds — $1,000 for a probation violation on a charge of driving under suspension and $50,000 for new charges of felony escape and misdemeanor resisting arrest.
Trice-Harris fled the city’s municipal court around noon March 5 to avoid being arrested for the probation violation after she couldn’t pay the $1,000, said Rusnak and Municipal Judge Patrick Cunning.
Judge Cunning said Trice-Harris was his last case for the day. He had ordered her arrest and had left the bench. He was in the clerk of courts’ office, he said, when she bolted.
A person who’d come with her to court stayed in the courtroom, Rusnak said.
Cioffi chased her out the front doors of the municipal building on Tenney Avenue and to a car parked along the street in front of the building, said Rusnak.
There, Rusnak said, Trice-Harris tried to get into the driver’s side of the car, but when it wouldn’t open, she got into the passenger’s side.
When she got into the car, Cioffi drew his weapon, a .40-caliber Glock handgun.
“He ordered her out, and she refused,” Rusnak said. “He approached the car, and she reached for the gun, grabbed it and pulled it toward her,” Rusnak said. “And it discharged.”
Rusnak could not confirm where Trice-Harris was hit. He said medical- privacy laws are forcing him to subpoena her medical records. The police report says officers determined the gunshot “went through Harris, the passenger seat and lodged inside the driver-side rear passenger door.”
Police found a stun gun and a crack pipe in the car, Rusnak said.
Rusnak said he is investigating whether Cioffi, an officer of the court, should have pursued the woman into the street. He said he is trying to determine if the “fresh pursuit” rule that allows police officers to chase a suspect into another jurisdiction would apply to a bailiff.
Cunning said his first impression is “yes,” but the city’s law director should be consulted.
Cunning said he saw no reason to place Cioffi on leave. “He seems to be functioning fine. He knows the system and policy.”
Cioffi is working without his gun, which police seized as evidence.
Cioffi, also a member of the Campbell school board and its immediate past president, has refused to comment.