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Fired police chief accused of arresting man, seizing car without a warrant

Darnell Pate was appointed New Vienna’s chief of police in early 2022.
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 8:46 PM EDT
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NEW VIENNA, Ohio (WXIX) - The chief of police in a small, rural Clinton County town has been fired.

New Vienna Police Chief Darnell Pate had only served in the role for a few months. Mayor Kathi Stone confirmed Pate’s firing Wednesday.

Pate worked previously for the Addyston Police Department. He was the first Black police chief in New Vienna history upon his appointment earlier this year.

Court documents show allegations that Pate and New Vienna Police Sgt. Robert Peters arrested a man without a warrant outside of their jurisdiction—in Wilmington—and also seized the man’s car.

The man faced accusations of holding a woman against her will and demanding sexual favors as payment in lieu of rent.

Pate allegedly told a judge that Clinton County Prosecutor Melvin Planas had instructed him to arrest the man without a warrant. The judge wrote he had “serious doubt[s] that Mr. Planas would advise a warrantless arrest.”

The judge also noted none of the excuses the officers gave justified a warrantless arrest or a warrantless seizure of private property.

“These officers had absolutely no legal authority to take this man’s vehicle, tow it to their village or hold it for ransom,” the judge said, later voicing “disappointment in the open and obvious disregard both of these officers demonstrated for the United States Constitution and the Ohio Constitution.”

The charges against the man were dropped and he was refunded more than $500, which he paid to get his car back.

Peters resigned earlier this year.

Concerns were also raised about the New Vienna Police Department towing vehicles for minor infractions and charging late fees for citizens to recover their cars, a trend the judge derided as “policing for money.”

Court documents allege this isn’t the first time he’s been let go from a local police department.

In May 2022, Pate filed an appeal against the Addyston Police Department claiming he was terminated in May 2021 because of his race. The documents show he was the first Black officer hired by the department in 25 years.

Addyston Police Chief Eric Pennekamp counters Pate was fired after he falsely represented himself as a K9 officer to get free dog food from a pet store.

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