A three-year court battle by a Summit County sheriff’s deputy appears to have finally ended after an appeals court this week overturned his misdemeanor conviction.
Since 2010 deputy Michael Conley has been fighting accusations that he assaulted two juvenile suspects during an arrest. He was acquitted of assault charges following a trial in Barberton Municipal Court.
However, a judge found him guilty of a lesser charge of disorderly conduct in the presence of a law enforcement officer, a decision that Conley and his attorneys argued against on appeal.
In a previous 9th District Court of Appeals ruling, the court sided with Conley, finding that the enhanced disorderly conduct conviction is not a lesser included charge of assault.
The case was sent back to visiting Judge George Ferguson, who altered his verdict and found Conley, 50, guilty of disorderly conduct without the enhanced penalty.
On Wednesday, a unanimous 9th District Court of Appeals once again agreed with the deputy, wiping out the misdemeanor charge. The court reiterated its ruling that disorderly conduct is not a lesser included offense.
Jennifer Fitzsimmons, a Canton assistant city prosecutor, said Thursday that she had not yet seen the appellate decision and could not immediately comment. Conley’s attorney, Mark Guidetti, said the deputy is “obviously pleased” with the ruling and hopes to “move on and continue serving the public.”
Guidetti said he was unsure if the state would pursue another appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.
“Hopefully, this concludes it,” he said.
Conley remains on the force.
Conley, a deputy for more than 19 years, was responding June 14 to a 911 call of a fight involving two-dozen people and possible gunfire near Cottage Grove Road in Coventry Township.
As Conley’s cruiser was nearing a park entrance, a car driven by one of the teens was exiting. The vehicles collided at 30 to 40 mph. Only Conley was seriously injured. The impact caused Conley to suffer injuries to both arms and his head.
Nonetheless, he tried to arrest the suspects. In the process, Conley was accused of kicking two juvenile suspects, who he said were resisting arrest. A dashboard camera video shows Conley kicking three of the four males, some as they were getting to the ground, some as they were lying on the ground.
Conley testified at trial that because his arms were injured, he had no choice but to use his legs when the suspects failed to heed his orders to peacefully surrender.
Prosecutors contend Conley was angered after the crash and kicked the teen out of frustration. None of the teens was charged with resisting arrest. None complained of injuries.