December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Man sues Elyria police over 2013 arrest

ELYRIA — An Elyria man sued seven Elyria police officers and an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper on Tuesday, accusing them of excessive force, false arrest and assault and battery when he was taken into custody while police were trying to prevent his son from committing suicide.

The lawsuit said that Bobby Hale’s daughter-in-law, Cassandra Hale, called 911 on Sept. 23, 2013, to report that her husband, Tony Hale, was trying to kill himself. Cassandra Hale had also called her husband’s parents and Bobby Hale, 68, went to his son’s house at 193 Spruce St. as well.

When police arrived, Cassandra Hale told them her husband had taken roughly 30 Xanax pills and consumed a bottle of Southern Comfort whiskey, according to a police report. Bobby Hale, police learned, was inside talking to his son.

Officer Scott Ashley, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, wrote that officers and Cassandra Hale went up on the porch and she opened the door and looked inside. She then closed the door and held the door handle.

Officer Paul Lesner, another defendant, took Cassandra Hale’s hand off the handle and police went inside. The lawsuit said that police shoved her out of the way.

They saw Tony Hale, who was holding a revolver, while Bobby Hale was holding his son’s wrists. Ashley wrote that Tony Hale managed to free the hand holding the gun and he began to raise it toward officers, but his father was able to again get control of his son’s hands.

Police told Tony Hale to drop the gun, but he refused and threatened to kill police, the report said. Ashley also wrote that Bobby Hale became upset as well, telling police he would get a gun and kill them if they didn’t “get the hell back,” Lesner wrote in his report.

But the lawsuit said that Bobby Hale “asked police to leave until he could calm his son down.”

Ashley and Lesner reported that they called for backup and several more officers arrived. Ultimately, the reports said, Tony Hale dropped the revolver on the stove and, after saying he would kill police, went outside.

Bobby Hale moved the gun to another part of the room before following his son.

Lesner wrote that Tony Hale continued to challenge officers, while Bobby Hale said, “Leave my son alone, get the (expletive) off my property, do not shoot my son.”

Tony Hale then began to take his shirts and pants off before walking off the porch and striking Officer Tom Orsik in the head. Orsik wrote in his report that he wasn’t injured.

The lawsuit said that Tony Hale was taking off his clothes “to show police that he was unarmed.”

Trooper Allen Marcum then shot Tony Hale with a Taser, dropping him to the ground, according to the report.

But Bobby Hale thought his son had been shot, telling officers, “You shot my son,” Lesner wrote.

Bobby Hale then tried to go back inside the house to get the revolver, Lesner wrote, adding that he drew his gun and repeatedly told Bobby Hale, “Don’t you do it.”

Ashley wrote that he and several other officers grabbed Bobby Hale and took him into custody.

The lawsuit mentioned nothing about Bobby Hale trying to get back inside to get the gun. Instead, attorney Terry Gilbert wrote his client was in fear and stopped when he was told.

Police, Gilbert wrote, then pulled Bobby Hale off the steps and threw him onto a picnic table and onto the ground before yanking him back to the picnic table, twisting him around and slamming him back onto the ground.

“Despite neighbors’ observations that Plaintiff Bobby Hale was not aggressive toward Defendants and only trying to diffuse the situation, he was nonetheless arrested and charged that evening,” Gilbert wrote.

After police put handcuffs on Bobby Hale’s left wrist they demanded that he give them his other arm, but he replied that they had broken his arm and he couldn’t give it to them, the lawsuit said.

“Defendant officers responded with excessive force, punching and kicking Plaintiff Bobby Hale as they verbally assaulted him with demands that he give them his injured right arm,” the lawsuit said. “Defendant officers took Plaintiff Hale to the patrol car, and with excessive force, shoved him into the car four times.”

It was only later that an officer looked at Bobby Hale’s arm, the lawsuit said, realized the damage and handcuffed him in front so he could be taken to the hospital.

The lawsuit said that the hospital discovered Bobby Hale had a dislocated elbow, a torn ligament, small fractures and other injuries.

Bobby Hale was originally charged with resisting arrest, obstructing official business and intimidation in the incident, but Elyria Municipal Court records indicated that all of those charges were eventually dropped and Hale pleaded no contest to a single charge of persistent disorderly conduct.

“The plea was made to bring this matter to an end,” the lawsuit said.

Tony Hale pleaded out to assault and aggravated menacing charges in the incident, according to court records.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.