A prisoner with a long criminal record, who was shot in the abdomen by a city police officer he allegedly tried to run down with his car in December 2012, has sued the city for $6.7 million, saying he was “attacked without provocation” by the officer.
The civil lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court by Jesse Cooper, 40, of West Ravenwood Avenue, who is serving five years in the Belmont Correctional Institution.
The suit is assigned to Judge John M. Durkin, who imposed the prison term on Cooper in March after Cooper pleaded guilty to one count each of felonious assault and failure to comply with a police order, and two counts of receiving stolen property that stemmed from separate earlier incidents.
Officer Brad Ditullio shot Cooper after being hit by the car Cooper was driving on the city’s West Side, police said, adding that an internal-affairs investigation found Ditullio broke no laws or departmental regulations.
Ditullio attempted to stop Cooper for expired tags but lost sight of the car as Cooper tried to escape by driving through rear yards; and the officer exited his cruiser to search for Cooper on foot, police said.
Ditullio then saw the car heading directly toward him and was hit by its front end and got stuck on its driver’s side mirror before he fired two shots into the car, hitting Cooper twice as he tried to accelerate, the internal-affairs report said.
In his complaint, Cooper said he “displayed no attempts to cause physical harm” and that his car was inoperable in a ditch awaiting removal by a tow truck.
Cooper’s Mahoning County criminal record dates back to 1997 and includes receiving stolen property, theft, obstructing official business, burglary, rape, resisting arrest, theft by deception and fleeing and eluding.
Cooper tried last month to file his lawsuit in Youngstown Municipal Court, but a supervisory clerk returned it to him, saying his monetary demand exceeded the jurisdiction of that court, whose limit is $15,000.