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Handcuffed ex-wife points finger at mayor
Handcuffed ex-wife points finger at mayor
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
A Chardon woman said she has filed a complaint with the Cleveland office of the FBI, claiming she was harassed by Chardon police and was hauled away in handcuffs over an unpaid parking ticket.
Jennifer King said she filed the complaint last week, claiming her Feb. 8 arrest was nothing more than harassment. She accused her ex-husband, Philip King, who is mayor of Chardon.
"This is a parking ticket we're talking about," Miss King said.
She said she was sitting with her daughter around 8:30 p.m. Feb. 8 when two police cars pulled into her driveway with their lights flashing. She said two officers pushed their way into her home, told her she was under arrest for the parking ticket and then handcuffed her. She said she subsequently was subjected to body searches, and hands were placed up her shirt twice.
"He's the mayor of the town," she said of her ex-husband. "He knows the police chief. You fill in the blanks."
Police Chief Timothy McKenna said the officers were "within every right" to do what they did that night. He said his department has made similar arrests as far away as Cleveland and Toledo over unpaid parking tickets and that Miss King had been given several warnings before the arrest was made. "If someone lets a matter go for five months, what do they expect will happen?" he said.
Mr. King called the accusations "totally false." He said he wasn't made aware of the incident by Chief McKenna until Feb. 14.
"I have no knowledge and had no involvement," Mr. King said. "The accusation was expected."
He said he would never use his power as mayor in an attempt to harass anyone.
"I expected this, she will stop at nothing," Mr. King said of his ex-wife.
FBI agent Scott Wilson said the bureau has a policy to not confirm whether a complaint has been filed, citing victim's rights. He said only that the agency evaluates every complaint and determines appropriate action. He said the FBI will become involved only if the issue rises to a federal level.
Miss King said the night she was arrested was one of the most embarrassing moments for her as she was taken from her home in front of her daughters and neighbors.
The parking ticket stemmed from an incident in September when she parked at the Geauga County Courthouse in a spot she used before without ever getting a ticket, she said. She had gone there for a hearing on financial arrangements regarding her divorce from Mr. King, which became official in January 2009, she said.
Miss King said she had no idea when the officers first pulled into her driveway why they were there. She said she was dressed for bed, wearing only a pajama bottom and T-shirt. She said the two officers walked up the drive, entered her open garage and then pounded on her door.
"I said you're not kidding me, you're arresting me for a parking ticket," she said.
When they announced they were taking her to jail, she said, her disbelief grew.
Miss King said the two officers pushed their way into the home and grabbed her arm. She said she complained that the officer was hurting her arm. "They said, 'Don't you understand, we have a warrant for your arrest, and we can do what we want?'" she said.
Miss King said she asked to make a phone call but was told she was not allowed. She said she made the call anyway, and then she was handcuffed.
Miss King said she was taken to the Geauga County Safety Center, wearing only the pajamas and T-shirt. There she was subjected to two body searches, she said. She was bonded out and went home.
Her account differs from the police report.
The officers wrote in their report that she asked when she opened the door whether they were there for the parking ticket. According to the report, Miss King said she would have the matter taken care of in the morning and began to close the door.
The officers wrote that they "stopped her from closing the door and stepped into the house." They wrote that they grabbed her arm to stop her from going farther into the home.
According to the police report, Miss King said the officers were "abusing her" and that they could not arrest her, because there are laws against that.
Officers wrote in the report that Miss King accused them of touching her breast but that the only body part they touched was her arm to control her.
Although it was not included in the report, Mr. McKenna said the door was slammed on one of the officer's arms.
He said it's not unusual for two cruisers to be sent anytime there is a "warrant pickup." A backup car is always sent for officers' protection, he said.
Mr. McKenna said the incident is "unfortunate" but "legitimate." He said Miss King was first summoned to court over the parking ticket on Oct. 15. She received a final notice of the need to attend to the ticket on Dec. 11, he said.
Mr. McKenna said there was no collusion with Mr. King in an attempt to harass anyone.
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