Tony Rizzo, the longtime Cleveland sports radio and TV fixture, took off from his spot as host of ESPN Radio's The Really Big Show this morning to face a judge at the Medina Municipal Court, three and a half months after he was charged with domestic violence following a drunken altercation with his wife in their Medina home.
In December, Rizzo's wife called 911 from a locked bathroom, reporting to Medina police that her husband was drunk and had been choking and hitting her (click here for Scene's story on that arrest, including audio of the 911 call).
Rizzo was arrested for domestic violence, a first degree misdemeanor. Today, it was announced prosecutors amended the complaint to a lesser charge: persistent disorderly conduct, a fourth degree misdemeanor. Rizzo pleaded no contest today in court to that charge.
Here's video of the entirety of his time in front of the judge:
Afterwards, Medina's assistant law director and prosecutor Matt Lanier shed some light on the decision to amend the charges. On the reduced charges for Rizzo, he said:
We spent some time looking at the body cam video, the 911 call, talking with officers, and also talking with Ms. Rizzo. In this case she submitted to our office an affidavit that requested the charges be dismissed. She didn't want to pursue it. We took that into account, but didn't feel comfortable dismissing the case, we didn't feel comfortable making it a minor misdemeanor. We felt that, looking at all the facts — video, the 911 calls, all those sorts of things, photographs — that this was an appropriate resolution.
On what happened the night of the incident:
Well, it'll still be subject to some dispute. She called 911, and in the 911 call she indicated that Mr. Rizzo and her had been in a physical altercation and that he had initiated it, he had pulled her hair. The 911 call has been heard, that he had further choked and strangled her. Since that time, she submitted an affidavit to our office to the defense that indicated that she had, in fact, initiated the physical confrontation by striking him with a glass and that all he did was defend himself. So she essentially put forward two different version of the facts; we had to consider that when deciding whether or not reduce this charge or move forward, and we did.
Video of Lanier is here:
Rizzo's lawyer also spoke, providing the non-answer answers of any seasoned defense attorney:
Rizzo will be back in court soon for sentencing.
Email us at email@example.com.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.