SYRACUSE — A civil action suit filed against three area police officers has been dismissed by the United States District Court.
A civil lawsuit was filed in August 2011 against Syracuse Police Chief Garry Freed, Meigs County Sheriff’s deputies Andy Myers and William Gilkey, the Village of Syracuse and Meigs County alleging “police misconduct.”
The action filed by plaintiff Paul D. Clay through attorney Charles Knight alleged police misconduct which resulted in physical injury and other damages.
Clay’s suit alleged that officers used excessive force and had no probable cause for his arrest in August 2010. Clay was arrested on charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and open burning.
According to an opinion and order filed by Judge Peter C. Economus, a motion for summary judgement filed by defendants Freed and the Village of Syracuse, and a motion for summary judgement filed by Gilkey, Myers, Sheriff of Meigs County and the County of Meigs, was granted by the court.
The motions were granted because, according to the legal opinion, “there is no genuine issue of any material fact regarding any of the Plaintiff’s claims.”
According to the document, the court noted that based on Clay’s response to the defendants’ motions for summary judgement, “he [Clay] is not pursuing many of the claims alleged in the complaint.”
The opinion stated that in the motion for summary judgement, the officers asserted that their arrest of Clay was proper. Although the offense for which the citation was issued was a minor misdemeanor, Freed had the authority to arrest under the Ohio Revised Code. The officers also asserted that they had the authority to arrest Clay for disorderly conduct.
According to the opinion, there is no genuine dispute of any material fact that Clay’s actions provided ample probable cause to arrest him for disorderly conduct. It goes on to state that “all evidence before the court describes Clay’s actions that day as uncooperative, belligerent and abusive.”
“Nowhere in the record is there any evidence to refute the proposition that the Defendant Officers had probable cause to arrest Clay for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.”
A statement provided to The Daily Sentinel by the Village of Syracuse reads as follows:
On October 26, 2012, the United States District Court entered a decision of record granting Summary judgement to the Village of Syracuse and the Meigs County Defendants. This granting of Summary Judgement, the Court finds that there does not exist any material facts and based upon the facts before the Court does not exist sufficient basis to support the Plaintiffs’ allegations and no sufficient facts to support the matter going to trial. Thus, the matter is summarily dismissed before trial.
This case originated when Chief Freed attempted to give a citation to Paul Clay for open burning in the Village, Clay refused to accept the citation and was verbally abusive to the officer and continued the open burning. The Chief called for assistance from the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office. In an attempt to talk to Mr. Clay. there was physical contact with the officer and Mr. Clay attempted to retreat to his residence. At that time he was placed under arrest. In granting the Dismissal, the District Court found that there existed probable cause for the arrest and that there did not exist any factual basis to support a claim for use of excessive force.
The Village had taken the position that Chief Freed had not done anything wrong and they defended the case. Attorney Randall L. Lambert of Ironton represented the Village and filed the Motion for Summary Judgement which was granted and the case was dismissed. “We felt the Chief was justified in his actions which was confirmed by the District Court.”
The time for filing an Appeal has passed and thus the Dismissal is final.
According to Meigs County Court docket entries, the misdemeanor charges against Clay were dismissed following the filing of a motion to suppress was granted by Judge Steven Story in Feb. 2011.