In a town that loves its booze as much as Cleveland, cops are always on the lookout for motorists driving under the influence, boaters under the influence, bicyclists under the influence — if it’s a form of lateral movement, chances are a Clevelander’s been collared for doing it after sucking down a bottle or ten. But walking the dog under the influence? That’s a new one on us.
Last week a lawsuit was filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court against Parma Heights and one of its police officers. The litigation stems from a 2008 fracas that started with a simple walk in the park.
According to court filings, in July 2008 Parma Heights officer Wayne Mockler was patrolling Big Creek Parkway in the Metroparks when he ran into Michael Onder. Onder allegedly had been out walking his dog when he got into an argument and threatened another dog walker.
Mockler rolled up on Onder and detained the guy while a park ranger was en route to handle the situation. But before the cavalry arrived, Onder went to his car and got in. He must have been all Vodka-eyed, because Mockler demanded he submit to a field sobriety test (the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the look-into-my-eye-don’t-move-your-head one); Onder refused. He then allegedly head-butted the officer, who proceeded to arrest him for assault on a police officer. He was in lockup for three days.
Onder wasn’t going to take this one sitting down. He fought the charges, eventually winning a not guilty verdict in a jury trial, and now he wants more payback. The lawsuit alleges Mockler used “excessive and unreasonable force” that resulted in a fracture to his left knee.
Attempts to get in touch with Onder and his lawyer were unsuccessful. When Scene reached Parma attorney John McLandrich, he said he couldn’t comment beyond saying the city “doesn’t agree with the plaintiff’s version of it.” This is not, Scene has learned, the first time Mockler’s been in the doghouse; he was the officer on duty in 2007 when a drunk off-duty cop smashed his car into the police station. Mockler was busted down in rank for his handling of that situation. — Kyle Swenson