Wednesday, July 16, 2008
[OH] Police Lt. Smith's ex, Somier McLaughlin, awarded $650,000
...In a 13-count complaint filed June 4 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, township resident Somier McLaughlin alleges the township police "conspired" with her ex-husband, a Summit County Sheriff's deputy, to gain custody of her daughter against her will June 8, 2007... "My client still lives in fear from day to day," Corrigan told the News Leader June 6. "This was wrong and we don't believe it should happen to anybody else"...
News excerpts from August 9th 2007 til now:
IN THE MIDST OF A CUSTODY DISPUTED, THIS MOM SAYS THREE POLICE OFFICERS CAME TO GET HER DAUGHTER SHE FOUGHT BACK. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
James Ewinger email@example.com
August 9, 2007
A knock on the door in the middle of the night, and two Sagamore Hills Township police officers stood before Somier McLaughlin . They wanted to talk about her refusal to let her ex-husband – a Summit County sheriff's lieutenant – leave the country with their daughter. McLaughlin had set conditions for the trip: The only way the 8-year-old could go to the Dominican Republic for her father's wedding was if both mother and daughter had passports. The girl now had hers; McLaughlin, who wanted a way to reach her child in case of emergency, did not. So McLaughlin held her ground in the face of authority as a third officer arrived. She cursed the officers and ordered them to go. Leave they did – with McLaughlin handcuffed in the back of a police car. The girl, meanwhile, departed with her father to catch a scheduled flight. McLaughlin has told investigators that she believes the officers arrived that morning only to provoke and arrest her so Sheriff's Lt. Doug Smith could take the girl. Her lawyer, John F. Corrigan, called the June 8 incident a lawless abuse of power by police. A Summit County grand jury, however, thought McLaughlin's actions that morning warranted an indictment for assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Police say she repeatedly swore at them and kicked one officer in the groin after being handcuffed... McLaughlin and Smith divorced five years ago. She has custody of their daughter. Smith wanted to take the girl with him June 8 to the Dominican Republic for his wedding to another Summit deputy... According to the police officers' testimony in Municipal Court, they did not have a court order, a warrant or any document from Domestic Relations Court mandating that Smith take the child when they arrived that morning. McLaughlin told them to leave. The police refused, Corrigan said. McLaughlin then became angry and yelled and swore at the officers because she was trying to keep them from illegally taking her daughter, Corrigan said...
OFFICERS IN DISPUTE CITED BEFORE SAGAMORE HILLS CUSTODY INVESTIGATION REVEALS BLEMISHED HISTORY
The Plain Dealer, (Cleveland, OH)
James Ewinger, Plain Dealer Reporter
August 22, 2007
Two of the Sagamore Hills police officers who interceded in a controversial custody dispute have documented histories of bad judgment, disciplinary problems and use of force... According to township records, Sgt. Mark Podgorski, the officer in charge during McLaughlin's arrest, has a history of disciplinary problems... In 1999, the department ordered him to undergo psychological testing because of two sexual-harassment complaints. One of the other officers involved in the incident at McLaughlin 's house, Patrolman Tim Ellis, was fired by Woodmere in 2004 for using a Taser on a woman in her car during a traffic stop... In Sagamore, Ellis was involved in two similar incidents last year, leading to his suspension and psychological evaluation...
WOMAN ON TRIAL FOR ATTACKING POLICE IN CUSTODY DISPUTE
The Plain Dealer
Posted by James Ewinger
January 28, 2008
Seven months after Sagamore Hills police took her daughter, the ex-wife of a Summit County sheriff's deputy went on trial for attacking officers. A Summit County jury must decide if Somier McLaughlin is guilty of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Or if she was defending herself after being provoked by officers with an agenda. As trial began Monday morning in Summit County Common Pleas Court, her lawyer made it clear that he will place the arresting police officers on trial as well. He accused them of intentionally provoking McLaughlin so they could take the child... Her defense is that she believed the police were interceding on behalf of a fellow officer, and that they had no business at her Sagamore Hills home - or in it. Jury selection Monday morning included extensive questioning about prospective jurors' attitudes about law enforcement and relationships with officers. More that a half a dozen admitted some relationship. Some of them were dismissed as candidates for the jury. Corrigan told jurors that the case is about a persons right to speak freely in her own home, to protect her daughter, and to be safe from the unlawful acts of police. Assistant County Prosecutor Brian Stano said in his opening statement to jurors that "this case is about an assault on a police officer. I know there are going to be some things that distract you in this case... The evidence is going to show that the defendant was arrested and while she was being led to a cruiser, she bites a police officer and just before she was placed in the cruiser, kicked him in the groin"... Corrigan said evidence will show is that Sagamore Hills Police used their authority, "to trick her, to gain entry into her home, and when they couldn't intimidate her to hand the child over, what they couldn't do by hook, the did by crook"... [Full article here]
SAGAMORE HILLS WOMAN ACQUITTED OF ASSAULT ON POLICE
The Plain Dealer
Posted by James Ewinger
January 30, 2008 18:15PM
Somier McLaughlin thought she was fighting for her daughter in June when she fought with Sagamore Hills police. This week she was fighting for her freedom. And a jury sided with her, acquitting her of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct... Doug Smith, her former husband, is a Summit County Sheriff's lieutenant. McLaughlin testified that she believed the police were there to intercede on behalf of a fellow officer -- not to act as neutral mediators. Smith did not enter the townhouse but the police did. She swore at them in her living room, repeatedly telling them to leave. One of them threatened to arrest her if she swore again. She did and they arrested her. She ultimately kneed an officer in the groin as they shoved her into the back of a cruiser. And because she was under arrest, the police handed her daughter over to her father who was nearby, and the little girl went to the Dominican Republic. Subsequent investigations found that Smith did nothing wrong and did not abuse his position as a deputy. Investigators also determined that the officers should not have gone to the townhouse that night and should have left when McLaughlin ordered them to. McLaughlin said Wednesday that she was nervous during the trial but confident during her nearly two hours of testimony. "I was hoping and praying they (jurors) would see the truth in this and the injustice," she said... [Full article here]
WOMAN SEEKS $12 MILLION, ALLEGES SAGAMORE POLICE VIOLATED RIGHTS
by Eric Marotta firstname.lastname@example.org
June 11, 2008
Sagamore Hills - A township woman who was acquitted of assaulting police is seeking $12 million in damages, alleging three township police officers violated her rights after entering her home at 1 a.m. last year to intercede in a custody dispute. In a 13-count complaint filed June 4 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, township resident Somier McLaughlin alleges the township police "conspired" with her ex-husband, a Summit County Sheriff's deputy, to gain custody of her daughter against her will June 8, 2007... Named as defendants in the complaint are Sagamore Hills Township, Sagamore Hills Police Sgt. Mark Podgorski, Detective Kenneth Wolf, Patrolman Timothy Ellis, and Sheriff's Lt. Doug Smith, the father of McLaughlin's daughter, who was 8 years old at the time. The complaint seeks $2 million in compensatory damages and $2 million each from the five defendants, said attorney John F. Corrigan, representing McLaughlin. "My client still lives in fear from day to day," Corrigan told the News Leader June 6. "This was wrong and we don't believe it should happen to anybody else"... Among the allegations in the complaint, McLaughlin accuses police of interfering with a familial relationship, engaging in a civil conspiracy, violating her civil rights, using excessive force, trespass, assault, battery, false arrest, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and malicious prosecution. The complaint alleges the township failed to train the three police officers and claims the township police department, through its hiring practices, training procedures, "customs" and policies, exhibited "a deliberate indifference to rights and liberties" of individuals... [Full article here]
SAGAMORE HILLS PAYS TO SETTLE SUIT OVER ARREST IN CUSTODY DISPUTE
The Plain Dealer
Posted by James Ewinger
Thomas Ondrey/The Plain DealerSomier McLaughlin in August 2007.
July 15, 2008
Sagamore Hills Township -- Township trustees awarded a local woman $650,000 and demoted a police sergeant over an incident stemming from a custody dispute. Somier McLaughlin had sought at least $10 million in her federal civil rights lawsuit against the township and three police officers who had arrested her last year... "The settlement is clear vindication that what happened to our client was completely wrong," McLaughlin's lawyers, John F. Corrigan and John Spellacy, said in joint statement issued Tuesday. McLaughlin referred any comment to her lawyers... The trustees agreed with Chief David Hayes' move to demote Sgt. Mark Podgorski, the officer in charge during the incident involving McLaughlin... The trustees also accepted Hayes' assessment that two other officers, Detective Ken Wolf and Patrolman Tim Ellis, were exonerated because they acted under Podgorski's direction.... The settlement was reached June 17, but township officials and their attorneys did not respond to repeated public records requests for information... Officials had referred most inquiries to Todd Raskin, a private lawyer representing the township's insurance company... [Full article here]