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TWINSBURG -- A Twinsburg woman has filed a civil rights complaint seeking $1 million against two Twinsburg police officers and the city of Twinsburg in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, stemming from a domestic situation in November.
Jacqueline Payne, 45, of Twin Circle Drive, is seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages from all three defendants, and $500,000 in punitive damages from the two officers, plus attorney's fees and court costs, in the March 2 complaint. Payne alleges that the two officers " ... in entering Plaintiff's home without a warrant, and defendants' conduct in arresting Plaintiff without probable cause, without a warrant and without any other legal justification, violated Plaintiff's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution" and the Ohio Constitution.
Police, however, state in their Nov. 24 report that Payne resisted arrest and prevented officers from checking on the domestic situation at the apartment. Payne was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing official business. These charges were dropped Jan. 19 in Stow Municipal Court.
Twinsburg Law Director David Maistros said the city has a copy of the complaint.
"At this time the city is in the initial phase of preparing a responsive pleading to the Complaint and we are not in a position to provide any specific comment to the allegations," Maistros stated in a March 9 email.
Payne's Cleveland defense attorney J. Michael Murray could not be reached for comment as of press time.
According to court documents, the civil case stems from a Thanksgiving Day incident at Payne's residence. According to the police report, officers were called to her apartment by another female at the apartment, who told police she had been hit in the face by a male friend -- allegedly Eric Payne Jr., Jacqueline Payne's son -- and was bleeding.
Eric Payne Jr., a 27-year-Cincinnati resident, was ultimately arrested for assault and criminal damaging, according to information from Stow Municipal Court. According to the police report, the female who was allegedly struck by Payne Jr. filed a protection order against him. Eric Payne Jr. later pleaded guilty to criminal damaging in Stow Municipal Court and the assault charge was dismissed.
The same day Jacqueline Payne filed the civil rights complaint on March 2, another of Payne's defense attorneys, William C. Livingston, filed an application with the Stow Municipal Court to seal Payne's records from the Nov. 24 incident.
Five officers responded to the incident, according to the police report. Two officers -- Officer Daniel Fidoe and Officer Michael Krejci -- are listed as defendants, along with the city, in the civil case.
The case has been assigned to Judge Benita Y. Pearson of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio in Youngstown.
According to the March 2 complaint, Payne had invited her two daughters, son and father to her residence to celebrate the holiday. Payne left her home briefly to get groceries, the complaint states, and returned before 1 p.m. Minutes after arriving, Payne said she heard banging on her door, looked through the blinds and saw several police officers and police cars outside.
The complaint states that Payne opened her door and asked what was going on. Officers Krejci and Fidoe told her that there were reports that her son had punched someone in the face. Payne stated she was surprised by this, as had just arrived home. Payne told officers they could not enter her home since they did not have a warrant.
Krejci reportedly told Payne that the officers did not need a warrant as they were checking on the welfare of the people inside. After a verbal exchange, Payne states that she tried to close the door after telling officers again they could not come inside.
The two officers reportedly then arrested Payne and removed her from the home, placing her in a police cruiser. It was during this time that Eric Payne Jr. also appeared and was arrested, according to police reports.
No court date had been set as of press time March 13.