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In court, without a jury

Canton man convicted at trial of trying to steal officer’s gun

YOUNGSTOWN — Judge John Durkin announced Monday afternoon that Richard A. Lamp, 39, of Canton was guilty of trying to steal the gun of Smith Township police officer Donald Davis last December.

Durkin, of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, also found Lamp guilty of receiving stolen property for having drugs and other items Dec. 27 taken during a car theft and obstructing official business. Durkin hopes to sentence Lamp later this week.

Lamp could get more than 10 years in prison when Durkin sentences him.

Lamp was scheduled for a jury trial Monday under strict, new social distancing mechanisms, including clear, plastic barriers throughout Judge Durkin’s courtroom.

But Lamp agreed to have the case tried without a jury and allow the judge to decide it himself. Durkin has had at least one other such trial since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Sgt. Don Davis testified that he was called to 1400 Beloit Snodes Road just north of Beloit early that morning and found Lamp and another man in a vehicle behind stolen car in a ditch. Davis found drugs in Lamp’s pockets that belonged to the woman who owned the stolen vehicle. Davis also found $700 in cash and an Ohio Direction card belonging to the victim.

Other items belonging to the woman were found inside the vehicle where Lamp was sitting. Davis later learned that the other man at the scene picked up Lamp, took him to get gas and brought him back to the car in the ditch.

Davis took Lamp to the Smith Township Police Department, where Davis prepared to put belly chains on Lamp to take him to the Mahoning County jail on charges associated with the stolen items. Lamp’s back was turned to Davis.

Surveillance video from the police station showed Lamp quickly spinning around and reaching with his left hand toward Davis’ service weapon. Davis, who was alone in the police station with Lamp, testified that Lamp was able to pull on the retention hood of Davis’ holster, unsnapping it. But Davis threw Lamp back and onto the floor, securing him in handcuffs, preventing Lamp from getting the gun.

Defense attorney Mark Carfolo argued that Lamp was only trying to steal Davis’ keys, which were several inches away from Davis’ gun. On the video, Lamp could heard saying something regarding Davis’ keys.

Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Day told Judge Durkin in closing arguments the video clearly showed that Lamp was attempting to get the officer’s gun, not the keys.

“The court had a bird’s eye view of what happened,” Day said.

In his verdict, Durkin said the video seemed to show Lamp “both looked at and was reaching for the service revolver.” Furthermore, the officer testified that is what happened and stealing the keys would not have accomplished anything, the judge said, because Davis would have still had his gun.

Durkin found Lamp not guilty of a count of receiving stolen property related to stolen drugs because the police department did not have the drugs tested to determine whether they were real drugs.

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