Last Sunday, March 7, 2021, The Early Bird published a letter from Chief Mark Ater of the Union City Police Department. It surprised me a bit, as I had spoken to him earlier in the week on the phone. He had questions and complaints about the handling of the case of a young woman who had just been sentenced in the Common Pleas Court on Monday, March 1.
He was upset that the young woman had not been sentenced to prison by Judge Hein, and upset that I had not argued that she should have been sent away to prison. My assistant prosecutors and I certainly do not always agree with judge as to sentencing, and it is not unusual for us argue for harsher sentences than are ordered by the court. However, this is a bad example for Chief Ater to cite.
The most serious prior offense the young woman had on her record was a petty theft, a first degree misdemeanor. In this case, Greenville police officers were called multiple times on the same date by her boyfriend because she was extremely drunk and disorderly. As I understand it, he was fearful she was running around in the street and she had already fallen and harmed herself. The third time out, the officers tried to catch her and walk her back home. She was uncooperative with them and started swinging, striking both officers in the face, chest and shoulders. She was arrested. The officers and two medics tried to get her into a vehicle to transport her first to the Wayne Emergency Room. She bit one of the medics on his arm.
I filed a complaint and then sought an indictment for three felonies of the fourth degree, being two counts of assault on a peace officer and one count of assault on a medic performing emergency services. I insisted that she plead guilty to all three counts, which she did. Fourth degree felonies carry a legal presumption that they should be handled by local, community control sanctions, rather than prison. I recommended community control sanctions to include local jail time, community service hours, court costs, and supervised probation for five years. The judge did order community control penalties.
Chief Ater thought that we should have fought for years in prison for this young woman. I disagree. I consider the defendant’s prior criminal record and the degree of harm actually caused in making my recommendation. Both were minimal here. Recently, there was another case of assault on a peace officer where I did recommend prison. That involved a female deputy sheriff who was jumped by a much larger man who took her taser from her and tased her multiple times. It was very dangerous because had he incapacitated her, and he could have taken her service firearm and used it against her or other officers. He also pled guilty on the same date to bringing drugs into the jail. The judge did order a prison sentence.
The chief called the day after sentencing on the young woman and accused my office of not doing our job by reaching out to the officers and to the injured medic, the latter of who got shots as a result of the bite. I told him I had spoken with the police officers myself, but I would have to check on the medic with my victim-witness coordinator. I spoke with her immediately and within twenty minutes or half an hour she found that she had sent a victim’s rights letter to the medic. She emailed Chief Ater immediately with this information. The letter had informed the medic of his rights as a victim and invited him to contact us with any concerns or monetary losses caused by the incident, such as medical bills. The medic never responded to that letter of October 2 concerning the assault on September 23, which was sent to his address of record. If he does not respond, we do not bother him further. To this day, Chief Ater has never responded to her email, by phone, by email, or by any other means.
His accusations that my office does not care about victims or does not care to do our job is simply false. I find this nonsense to be offensive and I think he knows better.