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Police defend use of stop-sticks in fatal crash

Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 @ 6:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 @ 6:00 PM

Maj. Rodney Muterspaw of the Middletown Division of Police knows people will question why stop-sticks were used in a deadly crash that claimed the life of a 28-year-old Tuesday morning.

But the move to place the tire-deflating devices at the corner of Grand Avenue and Highland Street was “a good decision,” Muterspaw said Tuesday.

Clearcreek Twp. Police Chief John Terrill said he wasn’t going to debate the “national issue,” but added if the driver had pulled over as he was directed, he’d probably be alive today.

“He made a dumb decision,” Terrill said. “That’s unfortunate, but that’s what happened.”

The high-speed pursuit began around midnight when Sgt. Curtis Hensley of the Clearcreek Twp. police department clocked a black, 1994 Honda Civic traveling 84 mph in a 40 mph zone in the 2000 block of Ohio 122, Terrill said.

The driver, McGovern S. Flener, 28, of Monroe, formerly of Hamilton, who had a lengthy driving and criminal record, was ejected after his vehicle wrecked about 10 minutes later in Middletown. He was pronounced dead at the scene and his passenger, Melissa Griffin, 20, of Warren County, was listed in critical condition at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.

Muterspaw said the decision to use the stop-sticks was made by Lt. Jim Cunningham, the shift supervisor. Muterspaw said it’s the department’s policy to use the sticks as a way to stop vehicles and to “protect our citizens.”

After the officers put out the sticks, they hid behind their cruiser and a utility police, Muterspaw said.

After having at least one of his tires flattened, Flener drove about ¼-mile before he crashed into the median and utility pole at the corner of Grand and Stanley Street. Flener and Griffin were ejected and neither was wearing a seat belt, Terrill said.

Flener was weaving and driving reckless, causing Sgt. Hensley to suspect he was impaired, Terrill said.

Terrill said as Flener drove on Ohio 122 near Hunter, someone in the car threw items out of the car. Terrill said police officials searched the road overnight and Tuesday morning, but were unable to find any evidence. He said Flener refused to pull over after Hensley turned on his lights and sirens. He said the pursuit continued on 122 to Grand Avenue and the crash site.

Beer cans were found at the crash site and a receipt showed that beer was purchased earlier in the evening in Middletown, Terrill said.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, Muterspaw said.

Flener was driving with a valid license and did not have any warrants, Terrill said.

Terrill said Flener has a lengthy felony criminal record with convictions for permitting drug abuse, possession of drugs, possession of heroin, possession of cocaine and theft.

Suspicious death under investigation on West Hudson Avenue in Dayton

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 4:20 PM

Police are investigating a suspicious death on West Hudson Avenue this afternoon, according to investigators.

Homicide detectives were on the scene of the death around 4 p.m. Monday in the first block of West Hudson, police said.

CRIME NEWS: Man accused of sex act in maternity waiting area of hospital indicted on charges

We’re working to learn more about this developing story.

State to pay $550,000 to convicted murderer because of amputation

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 10:21 AM

State To Pay $550,000 To Prison Inmate Because Of Amputation

The state of Georgia has agreed to pay $550,000 to a diabetic inmate serving a life sentence for murder to settle his lawsuit alleging that he lost his left leg because of improper care and neglect by a prison doctor.

The settlement means Michael Tarver’s case against Dr. Chiquita Fye, the medical director at Macon State Prison, won’t go to trial as scheduled this month and ends an improbable legal proceeding that began three years ago with a lawsuit written in longhand and filed without the aid of an attorney.

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Tarver’s federal lawsuit asserted that Fye, the lone defendant, was deliberately indifferent to his injury as he languished for months in the prison infirmary. Deliberate indifference to a prison inmate’s medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits governments from imposing cruel and inhuman punishment.

U.S. District Judge Marc T. Treadwell signed off on an order Monday stating that a settlement had been reached.

The case was scheduled for trial starting Sept. 25 in Treadwell’s court in Macon.

The amount of the settlement was disclosed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Mike Brown, an Augusta attorney who began representing Tarver when the case entered the discovery phase. Brown said Tarver, who is 55 and serving a sentence of life without parole for the 1994 murder of a Columbus convenience store clerk, plans to distribute a “good portion” of the money to his family.

Fye, 65, has been the medical director at Macon State Prison since 2006, making her one of the longest-tenured physicians working for Georgia Correctional HealthCare, the branch of Augusta University that provides medical services for the Department of Corrections. The Emory-trained doctor receives an annual salary of $159,324 to oversee a facility that employs 20 nurses and upper-level providers and provides 24-hour care to men from multiple institutions.

Despite the settlement, Georgia Correctional HealthCare stands behind Fye, a university spokeswoman said. Christen Engel, the school’s associate vice president for communications, said that conclusion was reached after what the university believes was an extensive review of Fye’s conduct.

“GCHC human resources professionals interviewed providers at Macon State Prison and found that Dr. Fye continually exhibits professionalism and sound judgment when caring for her patients,” Engel wrote in an email.

Engel added that the organization is taking steps to improve wound care education for all its providers.

Fye still faces another potential trial in federal court stemming from a lawsuit in which she is accused of failing to ensure the safety of a man who was abruptly cut off from his prescribed daily dose of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. The man, William Stoner, ultimately suffered a seizure and had to be transported by helicopter to a hospital for treatment.

Tarver’s amputation and Stoner’s seizure were among the issues detailed by the AJC last month in a story in which six former healthcare workers at the prison 130 miles south of Atlanta in Oglethorpe questioned Fye’s care of inmates. In depositions and interviews, the six said Fye’s disdain for criminals at times caused her to withhold vital treatment when she believed inmates were faking or otherwise trying to take advantage.

Tarver’s leg was amputated above the knee in November 2012, six months after he slipped and fell on a wet floor in the prison kitchen, opening a dime-size cut above his ankle. As a diabetic, Tarver was particularly vulnerable to infection, but evidence developed through his lawsuit indicated that the wound was allowed to become dangerously toxic even as he was under observation in the infirmary.

One former prison nurse said in a deposition that the wound became so foul-smelling that the odor was noticeable outside Tarver’s room. Another testified she had informed Fye that tissue within the wound had turned black, but the doctor didn’t respond.

One of the country’s foremost wound care experts, Dr. John Macdonald, also provided a deposition in which he was highly critical of Fye. Macdonald, a professor at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine who has established a wound clinic in Haiti, testified that Tarver’s treatment violated the basic tenets of wound care and that what happened to him “would have never happened in Haiti.”

Fye testified that she did not notice the smell or the black tissue. She further argued that her treatment was adequate because she twice prescribed antibiotics for Tarver and had him admitted at one point to a local emergency room.

Lawsuits filed by prison inmates “pro se” -- without an attorney -- often do not survive early procedural challenges, but Tarver’s case, initially written by hand on 26 lined pages, was different.

Eventually realizing that he needed an attorney, Tarver hired Brown, who obtained the deposition testimony.

Evidence developed by Brown also showed that some of Tarver’s medical records are missing, including an order for a wound consultation that a former physician assistant testified she wrote when Fye wouldn’t do one.

In pre-trial filings, Brown stated that key documents had been destroyed and asked Treadwell to make that known in his jury instructions. The judge had yet to rule on the request when the case settled.

Brown said Tarver, now incarcerated at Augusta State Medical Prison, has a prosthetic leg but mostly gets around using a wheelchair. Weight fluctuations caused by Tarver’s diabetes limit his use of the prosthetic device, the attorney said.

Fye’s issues mark the second time in the last two years that Georgia Correctional HealthCare has been forced to deal with questions regarding one of its doctors.

In 2015, the organization fired the physician most responsible for treating female inmates, Dr. Yvon Nazaire, after the AJC revealed how nine women had died in his care under questionable circumstances  at Pulaski State Prison and Emanuel Women’s Facility. The AJC’s series also cast doubt on the truthfulness of the resume Nazaire submitted when he was hired for his position.

Since the AJC first began reporting on Nazaire, three lawsuits have been filed dealing with his treatment of inmates and another is expected, according to a notice of claim filed in that case earlier this year.

Medical board fails to act

The Georgia Composite Medical Board can sanction physicians when it finds they failed to provide appropriate medical care. However, it has yet to take action against Dr. Chiquita Fye, the medical director at Macon State Prison.

The board did not sanction Dr. Yvon Nazaire, who oversaw healthcare for Georgia women inmates, even after a state report found that the deaths of inmates in his care clearly demonstrated that his treatment fell below community standards. Nazaire avoided discipline through a loophole: He allowed his Georgia license to lapse.

Some women in Nazaire’s care told the AJC about botched cancer diagnoses. You can read that story here:

In Fye’s case, six former prison healthcare workers said she withheld vital treatment and medication from sick or injured inmates. Find out what they had to say here:

8 certified to be on ballot for Lang’s old West Chester trustee seat

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 9:02 PM
Updated: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 4:14 PM

            The race for Ohio Rep. George Lang’s former West Chester Twp. trustee seat is one of the most crowded fields on November’s local ballot. GREG LYNCH/FILE
The race for Ohio Rep. George Lang’s former West Chester Twp. trustee seat is one of the most crowded fields on November’s local ballot. GREG LYNCH/FILE

The field is now set in the race to replace former West Chester Twp. trustee George Lang.

Eight people were certified on Monday afternoon, which officially makes this race for the final two years of the unexpired term tied for the second-most crowded on November’s local ballot.

RELATED: 5 things to know about George Lang’s Statehouse appointment

Lang resigned on Sept. 13 in order to be sworn in as the 52nd Ohio House District representative. He was appointed to the seat after former Republican state lawmaker Margy Conditt resigned on Sept. 8.

Since Lang’s resignation happened more than 40 days before the Nov. 7 general election, state law requires voters pick who will serve out the final two years of the unexpired term.

Potential candidates had 10 days to file petitions with the Butler County Board of Elections by Saturday afternoon.

Certified candidates for the seat are:

  • Ann Becker
  • Lawrence Richard Brown
  • David W. Corfman
  • Jillian Kelley
  • David J. Lindenschmidt
  • Christy Ann Miller
  • Lynda Caldwell O’Connor
  • Larry A. Whited

Miami University Regionals political science professor John Forren said it’s not surprising to see so much interest for an open seat.

RELATED: 5 things to know about George Lang’s Statehouse appointment

“It’s really not all that often that a seat opens up — even at the township trustee level — so that an interested candidate can run without having to take on an incumbent,” he said. “It’s really a question of seizing a relatively rare opportunity.”

Forren compared it to when former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner resigned in 2015 and there were 15 Republican candidates seeking to succeed him.

He said for many, it can be the start of a political career that can lead to a higher office. Boehner was a former Union Twp. trustee, which is known today as West Chester Twp.

“Among other things, it is an opportunity for a new face in politics to get in on the ground floor,” he said.

RELATED: Butler County Democrats say Lang is ‘unfit to serve’

Other crowded races this November in Butler County:

  • Oxford City Council — nine people seeking three seats
  • Hamilton Board of Education — eight people seeking three seats
  • Hamilton City Council — six people seeking three seats
  • Lakota Board of Education — six people seeking three seats

But the race to replace Lang is not the only trustees race West Chester Twp. residents will decide on Election Day.

The full terms for West Chester Twp. trustees Lee Wong and Mark Welch will also be on the Nov. 7 ballot. Wong and Welch are seeking re-election, but they’re being challenged by Mariann Penska and long-time former Lakota school board member Joan Powell.

Woman sentenced to prison after concealing gun in her bra in jail

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 4:12 PM

            Cassondra Workman
Cassondra Workman

A New Carlisle woman convicted of concealing an unloaded .22-caliber pistol in her bra in the Miami County Jail was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison by a judge who called the behavior “flat out dangerous.”

Cassondra Workman, 25, was charged with felony illegal conveyance into a facility May 21 after being taken to the jail by Troy police who arrested her on a warrant out of Clark County.

Sheriff’s department reports said Workman told them she was able to conceal the weapon in her clothing and then in the shower before concealing it in the waistband of her jail uniform. Reports said Workman was placed in the jail indoor rec area to wait until Clark County deputies arrived. Before being transferred to those deputies, she changed back into her clothing in a shower room and said she put the gun in her bra at that time.

A Clark County deputy patting down Workman before leaving the jail, found the firearm in her bra, took possession of it and told corrections staff.

Workman pleaded guilty Aug. 15.

She told Judge Jeannine Pratt on Monday that she had made bad choices and had been working to change her life since the jail incident.

Paul Watkins, an assistant county prosecutor, said the scenario presented by Workman is “the worst fear” of correction officers in the jail. “The message needs to be sent that safety not only of correction officers but jail inmates is priority,” Watkins said.

Pratt told Workman the situation could have had tragic results. Her behavior, Pratt said, went beyond serious. “It’s flat out dangerous,” the judge said

Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said an administrative review of the incident showed Workman likely concealed the unloaded gun between her thighs and, after the jail search, inserted the pistol into her bra. She was never put into the jail’s general population, he said.

A body scanner installed in recent days at the jail will assist in averting similar situations, Duchak said. Training on scanner use begins Tuesday with hopes the unit will be in use in early October, he said Monday.

The correction officer who searched Workman was a newer employee and the incident was attributed to “human error/negligence,” Duchak said. The officer received corrective action, he said.