By John W. GOODWIN JR.
A jury trial begins Thursday for two women charged in a 2011 traffic stop where police say they were assaulted and the women say the officers attacked them.
Judge Robert Milich of Youngstown Municipal Court will oversee the trial of Desiree Johnson, 45, of West Princeton Avenue, and Doretha Weston, 35, of Miller Avenue. Weston is charged with resisting arrest and driving under license suspension. Johnson is charged with two counts of assault. All charges are misdemeanors.
The charges at one point had been dismissed, but were filed again earlier this year. The women claim the charges were re-filed as retaliation because of a pending lawsuit one of the women filed against the city in another matter.
The women asked the judge Tuesday to dismiss the charges, but he denied their request.
A jury was seated Tuesday afternoon, and the case was ready to proceed. One of the jurors, however, got sick, causing the trial to be delayed until Thursday.
According to police reports, Lt. Kevin Mercer and Officer Patrick Mulligan pulled over the two women in the 1700 block of Overland Avenue last year because the driver, Weston, failed to signal before turning.
Reports say both women refused to show officers a driver’s license or get out of the car when ordered.
Mercer reported he pulled Weston from the car and took her to the ground after a short scuffle. He reported that Johnson then claimed Mercer was assaulting Weston and dialed 911 from her cellphone. She reportedly refused to hang up the phone and leave the car.
Mulligan reportedly pulled Johnson from the car as Johnson threw punches at the officer, striking him in the nose and cheek.
Mercer reported he also was hit in the face as he tried to help subdue Johnson.
The women both maintained they had been unjustly attacked by the officers.
Johnson and Weston claimed the traffic stop and their treatment was in retaliation for a lawsuit pending against the same two officers.
In July 2011, Johnson filed suit in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court against Mercer and Mulligan for their purported actions in a July 10, 2009, incident involving her 12-year-old son.
The boy had been reportedly stopped at gunpoint and questioned by the officers during an investigation on the South Side.