WILMINGTON — New Vienna Chief of Police Darnell Pate Jr. and Officer Robert Peters appeared in Clinton County Municipal Court Monday — the second time within a week for the chief.
Last Tuesday in Clinton County Municipal Court, Judge Mike Daugherty questioned Pate’s actions in a case involving the arrest of Francis Music of Martinsville, who was also in court before the judge last week along with his attorney, Shaun Peterson.
Music had four charges of misdemeanor soliciting and one count of misdemeanor restraint filed against him on January 31; all charges were dismissed in April.
During last week’s hearing, it was indicated that Music was arrested by Pate and NVPD Sgt. Robert Peters in Wilmington — outside of NVPD’s jurisdiction — and several days before charges were officially filed, meaning there was no warrant for Music, nor apparently did Pate have reason to believe a crime was in progress at the time of the arrest.
Pate also ordered Music’s vehicle to be towed and impounded; Music had to pay $505, with Music adding he was told if he did not pay the money, the vehicle would be forfeited.
Daugherty had scheduled the Monday hearing so the court could gather more details and hear from Peters, and so NVPD could collect any receipts and paperwork related to the case in question.
Peters confirmed to Daugherty Monday that Music was arrested in Wilmington by his department. When asked about a warrant, Peters advised there wasn’t a warrant at the time.
Parker said the “common pleas (court) prosecutor” gave the authority to perform the arrest. When asked to specify which attorney, Peters advised it was Melvin Planas, a felony assistant prosecutor for the Prosecutor’s Office. He advised Daugherty that this was an in-person conversation with the attorney.
Daugherty asked Peters to confirm if prosecuting attorneys could approve a search warrant and the removal of a subject’s personal property. Peters advised they couldn’t.
Daugherty said the two officers should have known that any search warrant or arrest warrant comes from a judge — not an officer or an attorney.
“Yet here we are,” said Daugherty, adding he doubted the attorney approved the actions.
The judge went on to ask why the car was towed. Peters advised it was because the business where the arrest took place wanted the vehicle removed.
“We had a warrantless arrest, we had a warrantless seizure (of property) … gentlemen, this is not how we do business in Clinton County, ” said Daugherty. “You don’t arrest someone and take their property without filing a complaint … that’s fundamental constitutional law.”
Peterson advised that his client, Music, received a reimbursement for the car fee and that they were satisfied — except for Music’s civil liberties allegedly being violated.
Daugherty announced the issue at hand had been resolved.
When asked about these and some other aspects of the case, Pate respond last Tuesday in court by stating, “This was not my investigation”, but that it was the investigation of NVPD’s Peters.
Daugherty finally told Pate, “All investigations are your investigations when you’re the chief.”
Pate was promoted to police chief on February 1 after serving as interim chief.
The judge had added last week that he not yet know all the information in this case, but that the NVPD’s arrest process in this case is “certainly a questionable process.”
“The more it unravels, the more questions it raises,” Daugherty said. “I see absolutely no reason for anyone to seize [Music’s] vehicle or any reason to arrest him. There was no probable cause and no warrant.”
The following day, Village of New Vienna Solicitor Brett Rudduck said in a statement from the village that New Vienna had asked the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the department.
Also last week, the News Journal reported that the Mt. Healthy (Hamilton County) Police informed New Vienna Mayor Kathi Stone by letter dated March 27 that Pate had allegedly been using his New Vienna police vehicle to work as a security guard at a local bar, allegedly using an “unmarked police vehicle patrolling the parking area ordering bar patrons into the vehicle and that Pate had been “picking up patrons of the bar and releasing” them after “sitting stationary for a short period of time.”
No charges were filed regarding the incident.