Federal judge allows part of civil case involving Warren police officer to proceed to trial

By Ed Runyan



A federal judge has dismissed some of a bail bondsman’s civil-rights suit against the Warren Police Department but will allow a part of it to proceed to trial in which he claimed an officer detained him for too long while he was arresting a woman on a warrant.

Judge Benita Y. Pearson, ruling recently on the matter, said bail bondsman Dwayne Lacey of Newton Falls was working for All American Big Bob’s Bail Bonding Inc. of Warren on the day in question — Oct. 21, 2009.

Lacey was advised there was an arrest warrant for Heather Bako, and the co-signer of her bail bond reported that Bako was at his residence in Warren.

Lacey went there and located Bako. She ran from Lacey, but the co-signer ran after her and caught her one street away and was holding her on the ground for Lacey, who placed her in handcuffs and put her in his vehicle.

Three Warren police cars pulled up in response to a 911 call from an observer and surrounded Lacey’s vehicle, with one officer pointing his service revolver at Lacey and ordering him to raise his hands, which Lacey did.

Lacey testified that Sgt. John Yuricek, who is white, asked Lacey, who is black, “Why are you picking up white women?” Lacey said his bail bondsman badge was visible.

Yuricek, conversely, testified that he didn’t say anything about white women and did not see a badge on Lacey. He put Lacey in handcuffs because Lacey was carrying weapons and failed to keep his hands on the vehicle despite three orders to do so, Yuricek testified.

Judge Pearson wrote that dashcam video showed part of the encounter, and two witnesses at the scene testified that Lacey was placed in handcuffs after he “kept trying to reach into his pockets.”

Lt. Rob Massucci testified he was not satisfied that Lacey was a bail bondsman until he found identification in Lacey’s wallet, but none of the officers asked Lacey for identification until after Lacey had been detained nearly 12 minutes, which was too long, Judge Pearson wrote.

The judge noted that Lacey failed to notify the police department before detaining Bako of his intention to do so, as required under law, but his failure to do so “does not require him to forfeit his Fourth Amendment rights.”

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