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Olmsted Falls PD Chief: Predecessors acted 'unprofessionally' in handling of Mayor Donegan case

Posted at 10:54 AM, Aug 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-31 18:03:37-04

Olmsted Falls Police Chief William Traine held a news conference Thursday to discuss an internal investigation into the former police chief and top brass of the department.

Traine claims his predecessors acted “unprofessionally and used their positions to bring domestic charges against Mayor Ann Marie Donegan in 2015.”

The police chief addressed the public to put to rest what he called the "rumors and inaccurate information spreading around the city involving the mayor." 

According to Traine, the former chief and the top supervisors of the department took offense to the mayor's plan to restructure and bring order to an ailing police department.

"She pushed for what she believed was needed to reform within the police department," Traine said. 

In August of 2015, police were called to do a welfare check on the mayor's 12-year-old son after the child's grandmother become upset with the mayor for yelling at the child, police said.

Traine said the argument was minor, and the subsequent police investigation launched into it by the former chief of police was politically motivated to have her removed from office.

According to Traine, officers responded to the home to conduct a welfare check on the child but never ended up speaking with him.

Traine said two supervisors, who remained unnamed, were openly hostile to her during the investigation for her refusal to let the department to continue to operate in a way she didn't see fit.

Allegations of domestic violence arose from the investigation.

The department supervisors presented the case to the city prosecutor and the law director. The police department was informed by the prosecutor and law director's office there was not any probably case in the case, Traine said.

Instead of dropping the case as warranted, the former chief went to the city council president — who, according to Traine is a political foe of Donegan — and received authorization to have a special prosecutor named to review the case.

Soon thereafter Donegan was charged with menacing, aggravated menacing and domestic violence.

"Those charges were a complete overreach of a squabble between a mother and son," Traine said. "The chief and supervisory officers proceeded the investigation like it was a felony investigation."

"No other time in this police department did you have a chief, a lieutenant, two detectives, and two patrol officers investigating a squabble between a parent believing that yelling at your child was domestic violence," he said.

Traine said probable cause did not exist for any charges against Donegan or for what he called the "stacking of unmerited trumped up charges."

According to Traine, the final 35-page report states the facts prove the officers mentioned in the investigation into Donegan went out of their way and attempted to personally ruin the mayor's reputation and political career.

"It further shows under false pretense the police department presented facts to the court system to maliciously prosecute her," Traine said. "The facts in this investigation dictate a great misjustice targeted an elected public official for performing her official duties and trying to make this a better place."

The case against the mayor was later dismissed.

The officers involved could have faced obstruction and tampering with evidence charges but the prosecutor's office has decline to pursue the matter further, Traine said.