Cops, firefighter may face charges after four-wheel fun

VERMILION Two Vermilion police officers and a city firefighter could face charges of obstructing off
May 24, 2010



Two Vermilion police officers and a city firefighter could face charges of obstructing official business after they allegedly tore through the city on four-wheelers while off-duty Sunday morning.

The men smelled strongly of alcohol, told on-duty police officers conflicting stories and took a "cavalier attitude" toward the situation, according to police reports.

Vermilion police Chief Robert Kish said the department is investigating the incident. The city prosecutor and an independent prosecutor are considering whether the officers should be charged.

Because they have not been charged, their names were redacted from police reports.

Another man involved, Justin Miller, has already been charged with obstructing official business and resisting arrest.

Officers responded to an alarm at the Channel 2 building on Devon Drive at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, according to reports. Officer Aaron Bolton saw a four-wheeler with a driver and one passenger ride across a field and disappear.

A few minutes later, a four-wheeler stopped next to Cpl. Richard Grassnig's patrol car at Sailorway Drive and Ohio 60.

The driver smelled of alcohol and said he had lost two companions in the woods near Ohio 2. They had not been near the Channel 2 building, he said.

Meanwhile, two four-wheelers sped west on Sailorway and turned north onto Douglas Street. One driver turned around and drove to where Grassnig and the first driver were stopped, braking so suddenly his vehicle nearly flipped. He, too, smelled of alcohol, the report stated.

The second driver said he and a woman were the ones who fled from the Channel 2 building. Miller, another driver and the woman were at Murray's Tree Service across from the Channel 2 building, he said.

Grassnig left the two men with Bolton and went to Murray's, where he saw a man, Miller, run into the building. Despite repeated orders, Miller would not exit the building, and Grassnig used a Taser gun on him twice after a warning. Miller was taken to the police station and later released.

The police officers did not find anyone else at Murray's. Miller said the third driver left to take the woman home.

Shift supervisor Sgt. Michael Reinheimer met with Grassnig and Bolton at Murray's. One of the drivers offered to bring the third suspect to Murray's but then refused to do so, telling Reinheimer by phone that he would have to meet them at Spill-Tech on State Road 60.

At Spill-Tech, one of the men told Reinheimer they had been riding near Ohio 2, outside the city limits. The man said he would not answer any more questions without an attorney present.

Reinheimer told the men that being off-duty "doesn't give them a right to get drunk and tear around Valleyview," according to the report.

One man responded, "Welcome to the night shift."

Another said, "This isn't right. You don't do this to other officers."

In his report, Reinheimer wrote that the two who were still speaking seemed to have an "I dare you to do it" attitude regarding possible obstruction charges against them.

Kish said the police and fire departments have not taken any action against the men while the investigation is pending.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the men gave accurate statements to the police officers, Kish said. They have not yet identified the woman involved.