Pubdate: Thu, 22 Aug 2002
Source: Cincinnati Post (OH)
Copyright: 2002 The Cincinnati Post
Author: Kimball Perry


Hamilton County prosecutors had to dismiss a drug charge because their 
chief witnesses - Cincinnati Police Officers Michael Mercer and Robert 
Litman - also are under indictment.

Assistant prosecutor Lisa Rabanus had to ask Common Pleas Court Judge 
Richard Niehaus Monday to dismiss trafficking in marijuana and gun charges 
against Aaron Roberts "for want of prosecution."

"They were the only witnesses we had," Prosecutor Mike Allen said of the 
duo of indicted cops. "It would be problematic to prosecute with them as 

"It was a difficult thing, but we had no other choice."

Kevin Spiering, Roberts' attorney, insisted his client would have been 
exonerated, but agreed with Allen.

"The bottom line for the government's case is their chief witnesses, well, 
their credibility was just shot," Spiering said. "(Roberts) denied all 
along that the marijuana allegedly seized and the gun seized were his, anyway."

The charges against Roberts carried a maximum sentence of two years.

Mercer and Litman have been indicted for felony abduction and misdemeanors 
counts of assault and unlawful restraint, charges that carry a maximum 
sentence of five years and eight months behind bars.

They are accused of picking up Courtney Evans, 22, in Cumminsville April 13 
and taking him to Mount Airy Forest in their cruiser, spraying him with 
chemical irritant, then dumping him in the park to walk home.

Another officer saw Evans - who has served prison time for a prior drug 
conviction - walking in the park, heard his story and reported it to 

The alleged abduction happened just 16 hours after the city of Cincinnati 
signed historic agreements to resolve a racial profiling lawsuit and to end 
a U.S. Justice Department investigation into police use-of-force practices.

Mercer and Litman had their police powers suspended after the incident and 
are currently assigned to desk duty.

Now, Allen is worried about what will happen to other cases in which the 
two indicted cops are primary witnesses.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there were more," Allen said. "I hear they were 
very active officers."
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