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Federal judge blasts Youngstown for pattern of rights violations by cop



Published: Wed, March 5, 2014 @ 9:30 p.m.

YOUNGSTOWN

A federal judge sharply criticized the city for “a pattern of federal rights violations” by a police officer “which appears to have been acquiesced to or tolerated by” Youngstown.

U.S. District Judge Benita Y. Pearson ruled in a federal lawsuit filed by Desiree Johnson, a 47-year-old Youngstown woman, in 2011 against the city that the plaintiff “sufficiently” showed that the police department’s internal affairs division failed to properly investigate a number of complaints against Lt. Kevin Mercer.

That allows Johnson’s civil suit against the city to go forward.

In a 17-page order issued Feb. 20, Judge Pearson called the police’s investigation into Johnson’s complaint of misconduct by Mercer to be “cursory, one-sided, and incomplete. The city failed to take the most basic of investigative steps.”

Judge Pearson also wrote about two other investigations into Mercer’s conduct that exonerated him.

Of one case, she wrote: “The limited focus of the city’s investigation is alarming.”

Of the other, which involved Mercer’s daughter and boyfriend — the officer was involved in a custody battle with his daughter over custody of her baby — the judge wrote: “The lack of disciplinary action is, again, concerning.”

For the complete story, read Thursday’s Vindicator or Vindy.com


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