Magistrate rejects bid for protection order against Highway Patrol trooper
LISBON — A request by a Rogers area newspaper delivery driver for a civil protection order against a State Highway Patrol trooper was denied by Magistrate Lynsey Lyle-Opalenik on Thursday in the Common Pleas Court, domestic relations division.
Jeramiah Bailey had filed the request for a protection order on behalf of himself and his girlfriend, Stephanie Sampson, who was in the vehicle with him both times when he was stopped for alleged traffic violations within a week of each other.
Both Bailey and Sampson testified they had no problems with the first time trooper Joshua Yeager pulled them over delivering newspapers in Rogers at 3:05 a.m. March 28. He wrote Bailey a ticket, which is still pending in County Municipal Court for a stop sign violation and distracted driving.
It was the next time Yeager stopped them at 2:50 a.m. on April 4, the couple claimed was the problem. Bailey said he just does not see why he was only given a warning for left of center and a stop sign the second time. He questioned if Yeager did not recognize them, testifying himself that he drives a very recognizable vehicle.
“I just felt he was trying to use scare techniques,” Bailey testified and later said “I just feel like I was being targeted.”
When he took the stand, Yeager said he did not recognize them until he had walked up to the driver’s window. He stops vehicles crossing the center line at that time of night because the driver may be impaired. Yeager said he did decide to give them a warning because he tries to put himself into someone else’s shoes when he pulls them over.
Because of the prior traffic stop a week earlier he knew Bailey already had one ticket to deal with at that time.
Sampson had testified she was afraid of Yeager during the second stop, stating he made comments that he had “pinched them before and would do it again” while making noises with his hands, which she demonstrated on the stand.
“I’m a victim of domestic violence and that tone, that look in his eyes… The last time I saw rage like that on someone’s face I was being thrown across the room and out the window,” Sampson said.
At one point during her testimony, Sampson complained Yeager, who was sitting next to his attorney in the courtroom, was looking at her with the same look of intimidation on his eyes. Yeager decided to look the other way while she finished her testimony.
When questioned by Yeager’s attorney, Peter Jamison of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Samson said she has gone to counseling for her past traumatic experience and believes she is stronger now.
Bailey later testified said he did not see the look on Yeager’s face. He was organizing his license and registration paperwork for him.
Jamison showed the court a DVD of the second traffic stop, which included audio. During the closing arguments Jamison said Yeager did not threaten Bailey and only raised his voice a little bit once during the whole stop, at the point where he told Bailey he was not going to argue with him.
“All I ask is for you to be understanding of our jobs as newspaper carriers,” Bailey said to Yeager, during his own closing arguments, “I’m not out there speeding or being reckless on the roads.”
However, Bailey, who represented himself, admitted he does violate the law when driving around to deliver newspapers, swerving from the right lane to the left lane of the roadway to deliver the newspapers on both sides of the street. He also argued he was once cited in New Waterford for running the red light in the middle of the night as well while just trying to do his job.
“You stopped me from doing my job,” Bailey said.
Lyle-Opalenik said while she is sympathetic with Bailey when he said his contract to deliver the newspapers does not pay well enough to cover the cost of him driving up one side of the road and back down the other, she noted it is “inexcusable for him to break the law.”
She also refused to allow Bailey to use her courtroom to contest the ticket he received or any other past violations he was trying to bring up in his attempt to say he is being harassed by the highway patrol.
She also said she did not find Bailey proved Yeager had threatened them with physical harm or threatened them with some type of mental distress.