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Cooper v. Montgomery Counrty Sheriff

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

July 27, 2018

JAYTRON COOPER Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY SHERIFF Defendant-Appellee

          Civil Appeal from Municipal Court Trial Court Case No. 17-CV-5194

          JAYTRON COOPER, Plaintiff-Appellant, Pro Se

          ALEX J. HALE, Atty. Reg. No. 0091682, and ADAM M. LAUGLE, Atty. Reg. No. 0092013, Attorney for Defendant-Appellee

          OPINION

          HALL, J.

{¶ 1} Jaytron Cooper appeals pro se from the trial court's dismissal of his civil claims against the Montgomery County Sheriff. Finding no error, we affirm.

         I. Case History

         {¶ 2} In 2010, Cooper was found guilty of possession of cocaine (less than one gram) in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A), a fifth-degree felony, and trafficking marijuana in violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)(2), also a fifth-degree felony. He was also found guilty of two one-year firearm specifications attached to each count. The trial court sentenced Cooper to a total of two years in prison-concurrent one-year prison terms for the possession and trafficking offenses and, merging all of the firearm specifications, a consecutive one-year term on those. Cooper appealed his convictions, and we affirmed. State v. Cooper, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 24321, 2011-Ohio-5017.

         {¶ 3} This is how we described what happened in our previous opinion:

         On December 2, 2009, at 6:53 p.m., an unidentified male called 911 and reported that he had heard six gunshots and saw three African-American males run into the apartment at 5150 Northcutt Place in Harrison Township. Montgomery County sheriffs deputies were dispatched to the scene. Deputy Hutson went to the back door while another deputy watched the front door. Deputy Hutson could hear a television or radio playing inside the apartment and, after Hutson knocked on the door several times, without any response, the volume was turned up.

         At 7:11 p.m., a person identifying himself as Shawn Parker called 911. Parker reported that his son had sent him a text message saying that he was being robbed and held against his will in the apartment at 5150 Northcutt Place. The police dispatcher advised deputies on the scene that the caller's son said he could see the responding officers outside, and that he was being held inside a closet upstairs.

         While standing by the back door, Deputy Hutson saw a male briefly stick his head out of second story bathroom window and then quickly close that window. Deputy Hutson knocked louder on the back door to overcome the sound of the radio or television. Moments later, Defendant opened the door. When Defendant saw the officers, he immediately slammed the door shut. Believing that emergency circumstances existed justifying a warrantless entry into the residence, officers entered the apartment.

         Inside the residence police found six men in the living room, another man coming down the stairs, and another man upstairs. Officers immediately began searching for the victim of the reported robbery/abduction, but no victim was found. While in the kitchen area, police noticed a very strong odor of marijuana and observed, in plain view, a plastic cup half full of marijuana lying in an open trash can. A second search for the victim was conducted by police because none of the people present admitted to being the victim of a robbery/abduction. During that second search police looked inside closets and under the bed. In a first floor closet, police discovered a bulletproof vest. In an upstairs bedroom, when police lifted the mattress to look under the bed, they discovered several firearms. Police recognized many of the individuals in the apartment as persons who had previously been trespassed off the property, and they were arrested.

         After police removed all of the individuals from that apartment, they obtained a search warrant for the premises. During execution of that search warrant, in the upstairs bedroom police recovered from under the mattress the multiple firearms they had previously seen while searching for the victim. Also in that bedroom, police discovered an electric utility bill for the residence in Defendant's name, and a cigar box inside a tub full of men's clothing. Inside that cigar box police found a small plastic baggie containing crack cocaine, and a large plastic baggie filled with twelve smaller baggies that each contained a small amount of marijuana. The small baggies of marijuana were packaged for sale. A search of the remainder of that apartment produced baggies with pills in them, digital scales, and other drugs and guns. After the search, Defendant told Detective Reed that he lived at that apartment and had been home sleeping since 9:00 a.m.

Cooper at ¶ 2-6.

         {¶ 4} Six years after his conviction, in November 2017, Cooper filed a pro se complaint against the Montgomery County Sheriff, which asserted civil claims related to his 2010 criminal case. The Sheriff moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Civ.R. 12(B)(6). The trial court granted the motion and dismissed Cooper's claims.

         {¶ 5} Cooper appeals.

         II. Analysis

         {¶ 6} Cooper's pro se appellate brief does not set out specific assignments of error for us to review. We have done our best to figure out what he is alleging went wrong in the trial court. It turns out that his allegations are less about what went wrong in the trial court in this civil lawsuit and more about what went wrong in the trial court in his criminal case. His complaint alleges that the police did not corroborate a 911 call before entering the residence, where they believed a minor was being held, that a subsequent search warrant was tainted by the initial intrusion, that his co-defendant's result was different, and miscellaneous other ...


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