Ohio Judge Undercuts Police, Tosses Out Key Evidence In Riot Case
The rioting seems to be dying down, for the most part, following election day. Imagine that. However, there are several court cases pending against people who destroyed and robbed both big and small businesses during the so-called 'protests'. In Ohio, a judge tossed out key evidence against two men who are charged with rioting downtown on May 30th.
U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan ruled Monday that Cleveland police lacked probable cause to arrest Devon Poland and Brandon Althof Long after they were spotted near an SUV parked the wrong way on East 8th Street, Clevland News reported.
A federal grand jury in June indicted the men on four charges, including conspiracy to riot and cause civil disorder and conspiracy to use fire to commit a felony.
The judge ruled that prosecutors cannot use evidence retrieved from the men's cellphone, including damning conversations and social media posts. This move cuts the case off at the knees. A devastating blow for authorities who have pushed for justice in this case.
Reports note that the protests were mostly peaceful but at some time during the night violence broke out. Cars and businesses we looted and burned. Even a police cruiser was set fire by violent rioters. The downtown Justice Center was vandalized. Police made dozens of arrests that night.
Defense attorneys Mitchell Yelsky and Timothy Ivey argued that Cleveland police officers detained Poland, 22, and Althof Long, 24, for violating the curfew order, which the attorneys said is a non-existent crime. They said Jackson’s order did not establish a criminal offense.
The decision means that prosecutors cannot use texts the men sent to each other and others that spell out what they were intending to do in Cleveland. After the men were stopped, police searched Althof Long’s SUV and their phones. The information was then turned over to the FBI, and it became the focus of the federal charges.
In documents filed last summer, Brown said Poland sent a message to an unidentified person on Snapchat, saying, “I’m going to Cleveland to riot.” In another message to the same person, Poland wrote, “I’m gonna see if I can’t break into a designer store,” according to the filings.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing you can witness and maybe participate in,” Althof Long wrote to Poland before they left Erie, according to an FBI affidavit.