LORAIN — A Lorain police officer is facing a domestic violence charge for allegedly attacking his wife during a dispute over whether he was texting another woman.
Officer James O. Connell, 30, pleaded not guilty Wednesday during a court appearance, Lorain Municipal Court Judge Mark Mihok said. Mihok said a visiting judge likely will be brought in to handle the case since it involves a Lorain officer.
A police report by Lt. Dan Smith said Connell’s father-in-law called police about 12:25 a.m. Wednesday and reported that his daughter, Nicole Connell, had called him to say she had been in fight with James Connell and that he had choked her.
Police went to the couple’s house and were met by James Connell, who told them that he and his wife had gotten into an argument because she caught him texting another woman. The report also noted that officers smelled alcohol on James Connell’s breath.
Smith wrote that he then went into the house and spoke to 26-year-old Nicole Connell, who had dried blood on her mouth.
She told Smith that the couple had a birthday party for their 2-year-old son Tuesday and that her husband been drinking throughout the day and became argumentative. She said she took her son to a relative’s house before returning home to go to bed.
Nicole Connell said her husband had the TV turned up and refused to turn it down when she asked him to. She told Smith she then walked into the kitchen and was followed by her husband, who began hugging her and making advances.
“But she was already mad at him, so she told him to get off her and leave her alone,” the report said.
Nicole Connell told police James Connell received a text from a woman and when she asked about it her husband tried to hide his phone from her. She said she grabbed the phone and ran into the bathroom, locking the door.
She told police that she read the text and confirmed it had come from another woman before James Connell opened the locked door. Nicole Connell said she ran into the kitchen where James Connell tackled her.
When she refused to give him back his phone, the report said, Connell put her in a chokehold.
“Ms. Connell then added that she fought back by hitting and biting at his arms and at one point she was able to push him off her but because he was so quick he was able to (place) her into a ‘rear naked choke,’ ” the report said. “Ms. Connell continued that she continued to fight back by scratching and kicking and just as she felt herself starting to go unconscious, Mr. Connell released her.”
Nicole Connell told police that she got away and ran into the living room where her husband once again tackled her and sat on top of her while holding down her wrists.
“Ms. Connell concluded that she continued to fight and kick until Mr. Connell finally let her up, and she was able to call her father and ask him to come over,” the report said.
Smith wrote that he was able to see swelling and bruising on Nicole Connell’s left arm, a raised red mark on the left side of her neck and a split lip with dried blood. He asked her if she wanted to file charges, but she declined.
But Smith wrote that he signed charges and a protection order against James Connell on her behalf and the officer was taken into custody. All weapons, including James Connell’s police-issued firearms, were removed from the house, the report said.
After arriving at the Lorain Police Department, Smith wrote that James Connell wanted to talk to him.
“He stated that he was only trying to hold her because she was mad at him because she caught him texting another woman,” Smith wrote. “Mr. Connell chose not to give any further details of the incident at this time.”
He also noted that James Connell asked him to take pictures of scratches on the left side of his face and a scratch on his left hand “which he said he received defending himself.”
Police Lt. Ed Super said James Connell, who has been with the department for five years, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal case and an internal investigation.