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Friday, June 26, 2009

[MI] Michigan OIDV group angered by Officer Steele receiving probation deal

..."I can't believe this man was looking at charges carrying life in prison and got probation. What is the message that this has given other victims and police officers?" [Renee'] Harrington said the advocacy group [Michigan Officer Involved Domestic Violence Corp.] had contacted state legislators and other officials to try to intervene before Tuesday's sentencing - but she said no response was received...

[See previous blog posts on Steele's crimes here]


PROBATION DEAL ANGERS WOMEN'S ADVOCATE GROUP

HomeTownLife.com
By Darrell Clem dclem@hometownlife.com
June 25, 2009

A suspended Detroit police officer who had been charged with firing shots and trying to kill his ex-girlfriend inside her Canton home has been placed on probation for one year - a move that has angered at least one women's advocacy group.

Gary Allen Steele, 42, was sentenced Tuesday by Wayne County Circuit Judge Ulysses Boykin after earlier pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless discharge of a firearm.

Steele, off duty when he was accused of attacking Kimberly Ann Golematis in March 2008, could have faced penalties ranging up to life in prison if he had been convicted of original charges including torture, assault with intent to murder and other felony counts.

Golematis didn't appear for Tuesday's sentencing, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller said, but the victim had said during an earlier preliminary hearing that Steele was "a good person who made a really bad choice."

Nonetheless, a network calling itself the Michigan Officer Involved Domestic Violence Corp. has criticized what it considers a two-tiered system that favors law-enforcement officers charged with such crimes.

"It is an outrage," the group's director, Renee Harrington, said. "I can't believe this man was looking at charges carrying life in prison and got probation. What is the message that this has given other victims and police officers?"

Harrington said the advocacy group had contacted state legislators and other officials to try to intervene before Tuesday's sentencing - but she said no response was received.

Steele, who earlier spent months in jail before he was able to post bond, could have faced 90 days in jail when he was sentenced Tuesday. He was ordered by Boykin not to contact the victim.

Miller said Boykin accepted the no contest plea because there's still potential for civil action against Steele.

"The plea was offered by the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office in the best interests of justice," Miller said.

Steele remains suspended and still could face other disciplinary actions, according to the Detroit Police Department.

Golematis testified during an earlier preliminary hearing that Steele choked her, straddled her when she fell to the ground and fired shots near the left side of her head. The incident happened when Steele went to her home to get the last of his belongings after their relationship dissolved.

Golematis earlier testified that Steele appeared to "snap" back to reality after she told him that he was hurting her. She said he told her that he loved her and "would do anything for us."

dclem@hometownlife.com | (313) 222-2238 [LINK]

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