By Ed Runyan
A Trumbull County deputy sheriff received a one-day suspension last year for his behavior toward a man he purportedly slammed into a brick wall at a county court building.
Larry Heib of North Road filed a lawsuit last week in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, accusing the deputy of using unreasonable force against him at the county family/juvenile court.
Deputy David Guarino received the suspension after an internal-affairs investigation by Maj. Thomas Stewart of the sheriff’s office that indicated Guarino had performed his duties incompetently Feb. 21, 2013.
In the lawsuit, Heib seeks $75,000 damages from Sheriff Thomas Altiere, county commissioners and Guarino.
Leslie Stredney, personnel director for the sheriff, said she had no comment because the sheriff’s office had not been served with a copy of the suit.
In the suit, Heib said he reported to the court Feb. 21, 2013, to attend a divorce hearing with his then-wife. He could not see anyone at the entrance but could hear someone talking in the “far corner,” the lawsuit said.
Heib and the woman went through the metal detector “when suddenly a deputy appeared and began berating them for walking through the metal detector outside his presence.
“At that point, Larry Heib’s then-wife went back through with no issue. But when Larry Heib went back through, he had to remove his keys and change, placing them in the plastic bowl provided on top of the machine,” the suit continues.
“Larry Heib, however, still wasn’t able to get through the detector. The deputy directed Larry Heib to remove his belt, to which Larry Heib replied he was wearing button-fly pants and that he wasn’t going to be taking his pants off.
“Larry Heib then asked if the deputy could use the hand wand instead to be a bit more convenient. The deputy refused and stated to Larry Heib (to paraphrase) that “it was [his] way or the highway,” the suit said.
Larry Heib turned back around to retrieve his keys and change from the top of the X-ray machine, but when he set the empty tray back down, it fell off the machine,” the suit said.
At that point, Heib began to walk away from the metal detectors toward the exit.
“And as he was leaving, the deputy came up, without warning, from behind Larry Heib, grabbing him and slamming him into a brick wall. The deputy then put his face next to Larry Heib’s ear and yelled, ‘Don’t ever throw my bowl.’”
Heib filed a complaint at the sheriff’s office, then went to ValleyCare Trumbull Memorial Hospital for treatment of pain in his side.
On March 27, 2013, he received a letter from the sheriff’s office indicating the deputy had received a reprimand for the incident. Documents from the sheriff’s office say Guarino was able to serve the suspension by using compensatory time.
Heib’s lawsuit said he suffered substantial pain, mental anguish and distress, and injury to his reputation.