WILMINGTON — The investigation into New Vienna Village Police Chief Darnell Pate Jr. is complete.
She concludes that: the chief and his sergeant were rebellious; both “legally put the village in a very bad position”; “Chief Pate is a liability to the department.” ; it recommends “that disciplinary measures be taken up to dismissal”; and it recommends the opening of a criminal investigation.
Pate has been in the job for just over four months; he previously served as Acting Chief.
The Clinton County Sheriff’s Office began the investigation of Pate after the CCSO was asked to do so by the village. The report includes findings/opinions from CCSO Maj. Brett Prickett and Clinton County Assistant Attorney John Kaspar.
The investigation followed a warrantless arrest and seizure of public property, a reprimand from a judge in open court, and other issues.
The News Journal previously reported that Pate appeared in Clinton County Municipal Court twice in early May, and that Sgt. Robert Peters has appeared once (in Pate’s second appearance).
During Pate’s first appearance on a Tuesday, Judge Mike Daugherty questioned Pate’s actions in a case involving the arrest of Francis Music of Martinsville, who was also in court with his attorney, Shaun Peterson.
Music had four counts of misdemeanor solicitation and one count of misdemeanor duress filed against him on January 31; all charges were dismissed in April.
During the first hearing in May, it was reported that Music was arrested by Pate and Peters in Wilmington – outside the jurisdiction of the NVPD – and several days before the formal charges were filed, meaning he was not There was no warrant for Music, and apparently Pate had no reason to believe. a crime was in progress at the time of the arrest.
Pate also ordered Music’s vehicle towed and impounded; Music had to pay $505, with Music adding that he was told that if he didn’t pay, the vehicle would be confiscated.
Daugherty had scheduled a hearing for the following Monday so that the court could gather more details and hear from Peters, and the NVPD could collect all receipts and documents related to the case in question.
Peters confirmed to Daugherty that Music was arrested in Wilmington by his department. Asked about a warrant, Peters replied that there was no warrant at the time.
Peters said the “common pleas (court) prosecutor” gave the power to make the arrest. When asked to specify which lawyer, Peters said it was Melvin Planas, an assistant prosecutor in the district attorney’s office. He informed Daugherty that this was an in-person conversation with the attorney.
Daugherty asked Peters to confirm whether prosecutors could approve a search warrant and the removal of a subject’s personal property. Peters said they couldn’t.
Daugherty said both officers should have known that any search warrant or arrest warrant comes from a judge — not an officer or a lawyer.
“Still, here we are,” Daugherty said, adding that he doubted the attorney approved the actions.
The judge then asked why the car had been towed. Peters said it was because the company where the arrest took place wanted the vehicle removed.
“We had a warrantless arrest, we had a warrantless seizure (of property) … gentlemen, that’s not how we do business in Clinton County,” Daugherty said. “You don’t arrest someone and take their property without filing a complaint…it’s basic constitutional law.”
Peterson said his client, Music, had received reimbursement for the car expenses and they were happy – except for Music’s civil liberties, which were allegedly violated.
Asked about these and other aspects of the case, Pate said in his first appearance before Daugherty, “It wasn’t my investigation,” it was the Peters investigation.
Daugherty finally told Pate, “All investigations are your investigations when you’re the boss.”
Pate was promoted to chief of police on February 1.
The judge added in May that the NVPD’s arrest process in the case was “certainly a questionable process”.
The next day, New Vienna Village Attorney Brett Rudduck said in a village statement that New Vienna had asked the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the department.
The OSCC report on the Music case lists four findings: “1) That Chief Pate and Sgt. Peters did not follow the instructions from the prosecutor’s office that were given regarding the Music case; 2) That they were outside their jurisdiction when an unlawful arrest without a warrant was made. 3) That they took control of Mr. Music’s property without the proper clearances; and, 4) “Under Garrity Chief Pate and Sgt. Peters was asked for a copy of the body camera worn by Sgt. Peters, and as of today 6-2-2022 I have not received it. Which, by Garrity’s rules, constitutes insubordination.
The CCSO also investigated a case involving the arrest of William Cluxton of New Vienna in which an order for Cluxton to move his car within 24 hours led to him being: approached “very aggressively” by Pate on the owned by Cluxton; hit twice by Pate’s Taser; “knocked down” by Peters; and being handcuffed – all without any explanation from Pate despite Cluxton’s numerous requests.
This incident happened on February 1 – Pate’s first day as chief after serving as acting chief.
Cluxton told investigators Pate gave him two options: “You can go to jail now or he’ll take me to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation” where “they’ll keep you for 3 days.”
His vehicle was seized, but Pate decided not to arrest Cluxton, who paid $180 in cash and received a receipt to get his car back.
The findings of the Cluxton case include that “it is evident that there was no basis for the arrest of Mr. Cluxton, which renders everything else that happened null and void, this which opens Chief Pate to possible criminal charges and Chief Pate and the Village of New Vienne to possible civil lawsuits.
He adds that “…after telling Mr. Cluxton he was under arrest, fighting him and tasering him, Mr. Cluxton was released and never charged. I can’t even begin to understand this thought process.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Pate is on administrative leave and the investigation into Peters is not yet complete, according to village attorney Brett Rudduck.
In addition, both Pate and Peters qualify as Brady officers, Chief Assistant District Attorney John Kaspar noted.
A Brady officer is, essentially, an officer who may have a history of dishonesty and/or credibility issues and who was unable to testify effectively for the prosecution.
Mount Healthy Incident
Also previously, the News Journal reported that Mt. Healthy (Hamilton County) police informed New Vienna Mayor Kathi Stone by letter dated March 27 that Pate allegedly used his New Vienna police vehicle to working as a security guard at a local bar, allegedly used an ‘unmarked police vehicle patrolling the parking lot ordering bar patrons into the vehicle and that Pate ‘picked up bar patrons and released them after “standing still for a short time”.
No charges have been filed in relation to the incident, which was also part of the CCSO report.
Addystone the story
A CCSO investigator met with Chief Eric Pennekamp of Pate’s former employer, the Hamilton County village of Addyston.
The report says Pate was placed on unpaid administrative leave in May 2021 for an incident involving a Taser despite “no basis for arrest,” the chief said. It was also recommended that Pate receive additional use of force training and other training.
Another report from Addyston was that Pate allegedly “represented to businesses in the area that he had a K-9 who worked for the village of Addyston and that he had received dog food and care from businesses This was done without the permission of Addyston’s chief or lawyer.
According to the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts website, on March 7, Pate filed a civil administrative action against the Village of Addyston in the Hamilton County Civil Common Pleas Court.