The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

July 9, 2013

Conneaut police officer injured in altercation

Staff Writer

CONNEAUT — A Conneaut police officer injured while trying to break up a brawl late Saturday night will miss several days of work, Police Chief Charles Burlingham said Monday.

Patrolman Thomas Simcich suffered a concussion when he was slammed head first into the ground during a melee on Broad Street that needed three officers to quell, Burlingham said. Simcich also suffered lacerations and bruises that will keep him home at least until the end of the week, the chief said.

Charges are pending against several individuals, including menacing, obstruction of justice and aggravated disorderly conduct. The man who injured Simcich could face a felony assault charge.

Police were dispatched to a house in the 700 block of Broad Street shortly before 10:30 p.m. to investigate a domestic violence complaint. Upon arrival, officers learned one man was fighting “with everyone,” according to a report. Officers witnessed the subject taunting others to fight and then slamming his body into two other men.

When an officer grabbed the man, he was “swarmed and taunted” by relatives, according to a report. While leading the man away, officers observed other fistfights in progress. The man was told to stay put while the officer tried to stop the fights; instead, the man rushed back to the scene and began arguing with another man. When officers tried to escort the second man away, the first subject punched the man in the face, according to a report. As police were arresting the first individual, they saw a third man pick Simcich up and then body-slam him headfirst into the ground, officers said. Simcich appeared to have been knocked unconscious and lay motionless on the ground, according to a report.

As police wrestled with Simcich’s assailant, another man began to threaten police, officers said. Simcich, revived, used a TASER device to help subdue one of the men, according to a report.

An ambulance was called for Simcich, who was treated and released at UH Conneaut Medical Center, police said.

The battle follows a similar situation last week on Poplar Street when a handful of people became very abusive and belligerent with police when told to stop igniting fireworks, resulting in a handful of arrests. Such incidents are becoming increasingly common, Burlingham said.

“There’s less respect for the law and police in general,” he said.