An Ohio man was sentenced to 240 days in jail Thursday for First Amendment-related activities, including attempting to video record police in public and warning drivers of an upcoming DUI checkpoint by holding up a sign.
Douglas “Deo” Odolecki of Cleveland Cop Block was whisked away to jail immediately after the trial.
His attorney, John Gold, plans to appeal.
“The judge far exceeded her authority today,” he said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
“It’s clear she had her mind made up to sentence Doug to the maximum sentence possible, but she actually went overboard.”
It’s not surprising considering Parma Municipal Judge Deanna O’Donnell was accused by the ACLU in 2013 of running a “debtor’s” prison, one of several judges in the state who would spend hundreds of tax dollars to jail poor people for not paying fines of less than $100.
Odolecki, who was on trial for two incidents involving the Parma Police Department, was convicted of one count of misconduct at the scene of an emergency, two counts of obstruction of official business and one count of disorderly conduct. Videos of the incidents are posted below.
She then gave him the maximum sentence for each charge and ordered that they be served consecutively instead of concurrently, which Gold says goes against Ohio law.
“She knows better but she doesn’t care,” he said.
She also made very pro-police statements during his sentencing, describing how hard they work and how she is doing her part in making their job easier to by jailing the local Cop Blocker.
She also has four plaques awarded to her by the Parma Police Department in the jury room, the only plaques on display there as if to send a message to deliberating jurors.
We’ve seen these judges before. They are the ones whose decisions are reversed upon appeal. Read Cop Block’s account of the trial here.
The first incident took place on June 13, 2014 where Odolecki was standing on a sidewalk, holding up a sign reading “Checkpoint Ahead. Turn Now!” to warn motorists of an upcoming DUI checkpoint.
He was approached by two cops, one who told them he had the right to stand there with the sign, but he needed to remove the phrase “Turn Now!” from the sign.
“This is coming directly from our law department,” claimed Parma police officer James Manzo, who beat a 16-year-old boy, costing the city a $40,000 settlement.
Police cited Odolecki for obstructing and had his sign confiscated.
Then on July 29, 2015, in an incident which we covered here, Odolecki came across a group of cops gathering around a teenager near a bridge off a busy thoroughfare.
Thinking the teen may have been getting unlawfully harassed, he began recording from across the street before crossing the street to get a better angle.
He stood about 40 feet away with a railing separating himself from the cops when the cops told him to get lost because the teen was having “a real bad day.”
When Odolecki refused to go away, Parma Police Sergeant Ken Gillissie stormed up to him and assaulted him.
“First of all, he’s a juvenile so you can’t film him without his parent’s permission,” Gillissie said, taking a swipe at the camera.
“Take a walk!” Gillissie ordered as Odolecki told him, “don’t touch my shit again.”
“Take a walk or you’re going to jail,” Gillissie continued.
“For what?” Odolecki asked.
“For obstructing,” Gillissie responded.
“For obstructing what, I’m on public property,” Odolecki asked.
Gillissie assaulted him again, so Odolecki complied with his order to “take a walk.”
Odolecki walked across the street and continued recording.
“Public property, arrest me now,” he said. “This guy likes to violate people’s fucking rights over here.”
“Say hello to YouTube, motherfucker!”
One cop started yelling at him that he was “offending small children.”
Less than a minute later, Gillissie and another cop cross the street and place him under arrest.
He was charged with misconduct at the scene of an emergency, accused of adding distress to an autistic suicidal teen by recording when he never knew the teen was suicidal.
They also charged him with obstructing even though they were the ones who hurdled over the guard railing to attack him.
And the disorderly conduct charge stems from the fact that he cursed at them after they had assaulted him and forced him across the street.
But the First Amendment allows citizens to curse at police as long as they are not threats or fighting words.
The maximum sentence for those charges are 90 days for the obstructing charges and 30 days each for the other two charges.
Both incidents were violations of his First Amendment rights, which obviously not recognized in O’Donnell’s courtroom.
“It was very clear as the trial progressed that she did not think very highly of our case,” Gold said. “She was very aggressive towards myself and my co-counsel.
“During sentencing, she went into a diatribe about how cops are abused for trying to do their job.
“She said, ‘I don’t have the power to make it end, but I have the power to make it stop for a little while.'”
And with that, Odolecki was whisked away to serve his 240-day sentence.
So perhaps it’s time for the ACLU of Ohio to revisit the Parma Municipal Court. Below is an excerpt of the letter it sent to O’Donnell in 2013.
Please email the ACLU of Ohio at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at (216) 472-2200 to ask them to take a look this case.