Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Criminal Appeal from the Cleveland Municipal Court Case No.
Barbara Langhenry, City of Cleveland Director of Law, Karrie
D. Howard, Chief Prosecutor, and Marco A Tanudra, Assistant
City Prosecutor, for appellee.
Patrick S. Lavelle, for appellant.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, JUDGE.
1} Defendant-appellant, John Johnson, appeals from the trial
court's judgment finding him guilty of domestic violence.
Finding no merit to the appeal, we affirm.
2} Johnson was charged in a two-count complaint. Count 1
charged domestic violence in violation of R.C. 2919.25, a
first-degree misdemeanor. Count 2 charged unlawful restraint
in violation of Cleveland Codified Ordinances 621.08, a
third-degree misdemeanor. Johnson pleaded not guilty and the
case proceeded to a bench trial.
3} Cleveland Police Officer Ashley Graham testified that on
June 26, 2018, she received a priority call regarding
domestic violence at 4661 East 173rd Street. The dispatcher
reported that a female had been assaulted and was having a
seizure. Graham said that the police respond with urgency to
priority calls to determine whether there is an immediate
threat, where the suspect is, and whether medical attention
is needed for the victim.
4} Graham testified that the police responded to a park near
the East 173rd address because dispatch advised that the
female victim had left the home and was at the park. Graham
said that when they arrived at the park, the victim, who was
"clearly upset" and "distraught," exited
an SUV and told them she had called the police because she
had been assaulted by Johnson. Graham testified that the
police interviewed the victim to assess the situation. They
learned that the victim and Johnson had a child together.
Graham said the victim told them that Johnson was still at
her house, "tearing [it] up," and she wanted him
gone "before he destroyed her house." Graham
testified that the victim was also concerned that Johnson
would still be at the home when her other children returned
home. Officer Graham testified that in light of what the
victim told her, she called a supervisor, who responded to
5} Officer Graham testified that after interviewing the
victim, she and her partner went to the house on East 173rd
Street, where they found Johnson in the living room of the
home. Johnson told them that he had called the police because
he wanted their assistance with removing the living room
furniture from the house; he said he had receipts to prove he
had purchased the furniture. Graham testified that Johnson
made no mention of any assault until after he was detained in
the police car, when he said that he and the victim had
gotten into a struggle after the victim attacked him, and he
had scratches on his chest and back.
6} Officer Graham testified that the police arrested Johnson
after speaking with him and the victim and observing their
injuries. Graham identified state's exhibit Nos. 3 and 4
as pictures the police took of the victim's injuries on
June 26, 2018. The photographs revealed scratch marks and
bruising on the victim's neck. Graham testified that
Johnson admitted that the victim had scratched him, and that
she (Graham) observed scratches on Johnson's chest and
back that were consistent with the victim's statement
that she had scratched Johnson as she was trying to fight him
off while he was holding her down.
7} Officer Graham testified that she has been a Cleveland
police officer for five years, and that she handles four to
five priority domestic violence calls each week. She said
that she receives specialty training every year regarding
handling domestic violence cases, and that in light of her
training and experience, she concluded that the woman she
spoke with in the park was a victim of domestic violence.
8} Officer Graham testified that she was wearing a body
camera on June 26, 2018, and that state's exhibit No. 1,
the video from her body camera, accurately reflected her
interactions with the victim and Johnson that day. The
prosecutor then made an oral motion to admit the video. The
trial court admitted the video over defense counsel's
objection, finding that the victim's statements were made
to assist the police with ...