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Federal judge continues civil rights suit against Youngstown
Judge says the city has demonstrated "it’s deliberate indifference towards the federally protected rights of its inhabitants"

A trial of the civil rights suit against Youngstown is now slated for April 24.
Courtesy of Labros Federal Courthouse
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A federal judge has set a trial date for late next month in a civil rights suit against the city of Youngstown -- saying there’s enough evidence of problems with how the city investigated a police officer’s “pattern of federal rights violations.” WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more.

LISTEN: The civil rights complaint against Youngstown

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The lawsuit involves a police search of a 12-year-old boy in his backyard, and claims the city allows “excessive force” and the “searching, seizing, and detaining (of) young African-American males” without reasonable suspicion.

Youngstown had asked U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson to dismiss the case. But she responded instead strong criticism of how the city investigated this case and others. She said this investigation was “cursory, one-sided, and incomplete.”

And she cited two other cases involving the same officer, Kevin Mercer. In one, he was accused of trying to force a witness who was in his own yard into his home. Another involved Mercer’s daughter and her boyfriend.

The judge said both lead her to conclude – at least to the point of conducting a trial – that Mercer has a “pattern of unlawfully seizing Youngstown residents.” And Pearson said the city’s inadequate investigation “suffices to demonstrate it’s deliberate indifference towards the federally protected rights of its inhabitants."

The trial is now set for April 24. 

Listener Comments:

Kudos to the Honorable Judge Pearson for taking a stand against abuse of power and government corruption. Judge Pearson's ruling is the first step in holding public actors accountable for violating the same laws they took an oath to uphold. Best of luck to the Plaintiffs.

Posted by: B L (Wisconsin) on March 9, 2014 6:03AM
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