Thanks to a jury in Ottawa Hills, Ohio, former police officer Thomas White is facing up to 11 years behind bars: plenty of time to think about the unarmed motorist he paralyzed with an unprovoked bullet more than one year ago.
After just six hours of deliberation, the jury found White guilty of felonious assault with a gun specification, according to WTOL CBS 11 in Toledo. Sentencing is scheduled for later in June.
Days earlier during the trial, a police dashboard video was played in court, depicting officer White pulling over two motorcyclists, one of them his unwitting victim, 24-year-old Michael McCloskey.
McCloskey and his companion sped away from an intersection as the officer pulled in behind them, leading White to believe the men were running from him. Though both men pulled over almost immediately, McCloskey apparently did not hear the officer’s commands to put his hands up, instead turning slightly to face White while still atop his motorcycle.
Instead of repeating himself, White fired a round into his victim’s back.
“During opening statements, Assistant County Prosecutor J. Christopher Anderson said that the state intended to prove that Officer White ‘was not justified’ in the shooting and that ‘excessive force was used,’” the Toledo Blade reported. Defense Attorney Jerry Phillips countered that the situation was ‘tense and fluid’ and that Officer White ‘was doing his job.’”
The jury sided with prosecutors on Friday evening after a paralyzed McCloskey testified that he had not understood the officer’s commands.
The Village of Ottawa Hills issued the following statement regarding White’s conviction:
On behalf of the Village of Ottawa Hills, it is with regret that we have learned Officer Thomas White was convicted today by a Lucas County jury. We will await the court’s imposition of a sentence. We further regret the serious injury that occurred in the early morning of May 23, 2009. We will have no further comment to the media until all of the legal matters arising out of this incident are resolved.
This video is from WTVG, broadcast May 10, 2010.