ELYRIA — Lorain County sheriff’s Sgt. Donald McCurry has been indicted on a felonious assault charge for allegedly striking a friend of his daughter’s in the head with a flashlight while on duty last year.
McCurry, 48, was booked into the Lorain County Jail on Friday and released on a personal bond.
Sheriff Phil Stammitti said McCurry, who has worked in the office for nearly 25 years, has taken indefinite family medical leave. Stammitti said given the nature of the allegations against McCurry, he wouldn’t have allowed him to work even if the veteran officer hadn’t taken leave.
Stammitti also said there will be an internal investigation into McCurry’s actions. The criminal investigation was handled by Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth’s office to avoid any appearance of impropriety, he said.
The victim in the case, Joe Reiger, said Friday that he was visiting McCurry’s adult daughter at a rental property next to the family’s Island Road home in Eaton Township in the early-morning hours of Aug. 12, when the incident took place.
Reiger, 28, said he was friends with Ashley McCurry, but had never met her father.
He said she invited him over that night, but told him to park at a nearby business and walk the few hundred feet to the house. Reiger said when the elder McCurry, who was on duty, came to the house, Ashley McCurry asked if he wanted to meet him.
Reiger said they went outside through one door while McCurry went in through another door, so they followed him back inside.
“As soon as he seen me, he pulls his pistol on me and shoves it in my face,” Reiger said.
McCurry told Ashley McCurry to leave, Reiger said, and then told him, “I want you to stay away from my daughter or I’ll kill you.”
Reiger said he began backing toward the door, while telling McCurry that he meant no harm.
“He says, ‘You’re not moving fast enough’ and hits me upside the head with his flashlight full force,” Reiger said.
Once he got outside, Reiger said, McCurry came up to him and asked how he was doing. When he replied that he felt like he was going to die, Reiger said McCurry shone his flashlight on his head, saw the bleeding wound and began cursing.
McCurry then took him inside his home and began working with his wife to stop the bleeding, Reiger said. He also said the deputy apologized to him.
Eventually, he said, Ashley McCurry took him to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center. He said she told the nurse that he had fallen and hit his head on a rock.
The doctor who saw him didn’t believe the story. Reiger said Ashley McCurry then admitted her father had hit him.
According to an initial report on the incident, Reiger received 10 staples to close the gash in his head.
Later, he said he received text messages from Ashley McCurry in which she wrote her family would cover his medical expenses. He said at that point he didn’t plan to file a complaint.
That changed, he said, after he received a call from Ashley McCurry in which she said the family had gotten into an argument about the situation and that her father had made comments almost challenging him to report what happened. That prompted him to contact Stammitti’s office, he said.
Reiger, a veteran who once considered a career in law enforcement, said he was pleased to hear that McCurry had been indicted because he doesn’t believe police should be above the law.
He said even if McCurry didn’t know who he was, he had no right to draw a gun on him and hit him in the head.
“I wasn’t even a suspect that night,” Reiger said. “I was just a friend hanging out with another friend and I got the blunt end of it.”
Stammitti said that McCurry’s career has largely been without problems.
“He’s been a good employee. He’s been a good officer. He’s a pretty good guy,” he said.