2 guilty in ’11 incident with cops

By Jeanne Starmack



A jury returned guilty verdicts for two women involved in an altercation with city police officers at a 2011 traffic stop.

Eight men and women deliberated for three hours Friday after a three-day trial, returning to Judge Robert Milich’s courtroom in Youngstown Municipal Court at 7:05 p.m.

Desiree Johnson, 45, of West Princeton Avenue cried as the judge read four guilty verdicts against her. She was found guilty of obstructing official business, assault on officer Patrick Mulligan, assault on Lt. Kevin Mercer and resisting arrest.

Doretha Weston, 35, of Miller Avenue was found guilty of obstructing official business and driving under suspension. Jurors could not reach a unanimous decision on a charge of resisting arrest against Weston, and a mistrial was declared on that charge.

Bond was continued for both women, and sentencing was set for 9 a.m. July 20.

The judge has ordered that the women have no contact with Mercer and Mulligan.

The officers pulled the women over in the 1700 block of Overland Avenue on March 30, 2011, because Weston failed to signal before turning, police reports indicate.

The officers said the women refused to show them their driver’s licenses and would not get out of the car as ordered.

Mercer reported he pulled Weston from her car and took her to the ground. He said Johnson dialed 911 to report that he was assaulting Weston, and would not get off the phone or get out of the car when told to do so.

Reports indicate Mulligan pulled Johnson from the car and she threw punches, striking both officers, according to Vindicator files.

The women said the officers attacked and beat them, and Johnson said her cellphone was ripped from her hand.

All of the charges against the women were dropped in April 2011, except for the obstructing-official-business charges, according to the paper’s files.

But the charges were re-filed March 15, and a lawsuit the women filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on March 29 alleges the re-filing is in retaliation for a July 2011 lawsuit Johnson filed that is now in federal court. The July 2011 suit involved the same two officers and Johnson’s 12-year-old son.

The complaint, pending before U.S. District Judge Benita Y. Pearson, alleges the officers violated the boy’s constitutional rights when Mulligan held him at gunpoint and Mercer performed a body-cavity search on him without justification on the city’s South Side on July 10, 2009.

“The charges reappeared when it came time to mediate for my son’s federal lawsuit,” Johnson told the Vindicator on Friday.

In the March 29 suit, the women also say the officers used excessive force against them and violated their constitutional rights after the March 2011 traffic stop, Vindicator files say.

Johnson and Weston told the Vindicator on Friday that they came to court this week prepared only to fight the obstruction charges.

Johnson said they believed the other charges would be dismissed again.

The women asked the judge Tuesday to dismiss the charges, but he denied their request.

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