By Stacy Kess
The man tried in 2013 for felonious assault with a weapon for his part in what police called a “road rage” incident filed a second suit Monday for a disclosure of grand jury evidence.
Jim Stillwagon, who was cleared of charges when his case was dismissed after four days of trial, filed a federal civil suit on July 10 against the Delaware City Police and several detectives. He and attorney James McNamara filed a second suit to obtain information presented to the grand jury in Sept. 2012 when Stillwagon was charged with four counts of felonious assault. The filing with the Delaware County Common Pleas court asks for a transcript of the grand jury proceedings and for costs and “further relief the Court deems appropriate.”
The transcripts and evidence are vital to the federal lawsuit, McNamara said in a press conference outside the courthouse Monday. He said that the entire story was not told to the grand jury in 2012; had the grand jury heard all evidence, Stillwagon would not have been indicted.
“To be clear, we’re not asking for names of the grand jurors or how they voted,” McNamara said. “We just want the evidence presented to the grand jury.”
Along with the City of Delaware, Det. Benjamin Segaard, Officer Adam Willauer, Detective Sgt. John Radabaugh and former Detective Patrick Gerke were also named in the suit. Gerke was convicted on charges of identity fraud and attempted forgery in May and is no longer employed with Delaware Police.
“If the detectives did nothing wrong, they should have no problem telling the truth to the public,” McNamara said. “Those who are most responsible (for the charges) are the detectives themselves.”
The Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office and County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien were not listed among the defendants in the federal suit because they were not the ones who handled the investigation or evidence, McNamara said. However, the filing for grand jury transcripts Monday lists the Delaware County Prosecutor as the defendant in the matter.
O’Brien could not be reached for comment by press time.
Stillwagon, known for his role in The Ohio State University’s 1968 championship team, was charged after he and motorist Richard Mattingly, of Kettering, engaged in brake-checking, speeding and other dangerous driving along U.S. 42 in Sept. 2012.
At the press conference Monday, Stillwagon said he felt threatened by Mattingly, who was driving erratically and driving at speeds above 80 miles per hour. He said Mattingly would pass him, slow down to a near stop, nearly causing Stillwagon to crash his motorcycle and also threatened Stillwagon with a baseball bat.
Stillwagon said he worried that Mattingly would kill him and felt his life threatened by Mattingly six times on the road.
Mattingly sped ahead of Stillwagon when he reached U.S. 23, but slowed down enough to cause a slight traffic back-up, Stillwagon said. When Stillwagon moved onto the U.S. 23 exit to William Street, he saw Mattingly in his pick-up truck stopped at a green light.
“I pulled my gun out because I didn’t know what he was going to do,” Stillwagon said. “I shot at the tailgate (of Mattingly’s truck).”
McNamara said his client was 130 feet behind Mattingly when the first shot was fired – something agreed upon by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
When the two exited onto E. William Street, Stillwagon said he pulled into the AutoZone parking lot and behind a post for the Eagles Lodge for protection.
“That’s when I shot his tire out,” he said.
“Instead of shooting the driver, which he could have done, he shot at the lowest possible angle,” McNamara said.
Stillwagon said Mattingly tried to run him over in the parking lot and continued to threaten him. When Mattingly exited the vehicle and came face-to-face with Stillwagon, Stillwagon said he “grabbed his shoulder and said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’”
At that point, Stillwagon said, Mattingly replied with an expletives and Stillwagon again felt threatened. Stillwagon said he hit Mattingly on the top of the head with his gun to attempt to stop Mattingly from hurting him. At that time, the gun discharged again.
Witnesses called the police.
“(Stillwagon) thinks the police are coming to help him,” McNamara said. “Jim had put the pistol down so they wouldn’t misunderstand.”
He said his client waved over the police for help, but was immediately treated like a criminal.
The July 10 federal suit alleges that Detectives Segaard and Gerke made promises to Mattingly, who was convicted of reckless homicide in 1996, to protect him against charges and coached him on what to say.
Mattingly was later charged with reckless operation for the interaction on U.S. Route 42, and had tested over the legal limit of blood alcohol content after the altercation. He initially told Delaware City Police he was driving a “faulty truck,” a statement he later admitted was a lie he told because he of a previous reckless homicide conviction in 1996.
After four days of trial in Oct. 2013, Judge W. Duncan Whitney dismissed the case, stating Stillwagon was the only person in the case that was honest.
McNamara, who is known for his litigation of police officers, said Stillwagon’s reputation and financial status were damaged by the prosecution that made headlines around the state. He said he also hopes the federal lawsuit will prevent similar prosecutions for others.
“Many times I find the police did great work,” he said. “Many times I find people have a misunderstanding of the law.”
In this case, McNamara said, the opposite is true and the evidence presented to the grand jury was misleading and incomplete.
The federal lawsuit seeks to recoup the $400,000 Stillwagon spent on legal defense during his trial; to restore his reputation; and to ensure a similar situation does not happen to others. Stillwagon said he has heard from others since filing the lawsuit who said they have experience similar situations with police but did not have the financial resources to fight the case.
Reporter Stacy Kess can be reached at 614-373-4166 or on Twitter @StacyMKess.