Mr. Blade’s Brady claim therefore fails for several reasons. First, Mr. Blade did not make any demand for discovery from the state, including any request for body camera footage, which he would have been entitled to had he requested it … Absent any evidence that Mr. Blade requested the evidence, much less that the state suppressed it, he cannot establish a violation under Brady.
State v. Blade
2023 – Ohio – 658
Sixth District Appellate Court
Lucas County, Ohio
March 3, 2023
Mr. Henry Blade and “A.B.,” the victim in this case, were in a relationship and share a young son together. In early December of 2021, A.B. asked Mr. Blade to move out of her Burton Avenue home in Toledo. According to A.B., Mr. Blade’s behavior “drastically changed,” after he stopped taking his medication used to treat his mental health conditions. For example, Mr. Blade became “very aggressive towards men” by picking fights in public, and also became “infatuate[ed]” about getting his “felonies … expunged [s]o that he [could] get a weapon.” A.B. “could not take it anymore” and felt “very concerned” and “nervous for [her] children” when Mr. Blade was around.
A domestic incident occurred on Burton Avenue in Toledo, Ohio. There may have been video of the arrest of Mr. Blade but defense counsel did not request the video. Later defense counsel claimed this was a Brady violation. Would the Sixth District Court agree?
In early January of 2022, A.B. was granted a civil protection order (“CPO”) from the domestic relations court. According to A.B., the CPO ordered Mr. Blade not to “threaten” or “cause physical harm” to A.B., but it did not prohibit him from contacting her or speaking with her. And indeed, A.B. continued to allow Mr. Blade to visit their son in her home, even after the CPO went into effect. During one such visit, however, an “altercation” ensued after A.B. told Mr. Blade that it was time for him to go. In response, Mr. Blade “threw a kitchen glass and shattered it in the family room” and took A.B.’s “Xbox” and “threw it in the kitchen sink and turned the water on.” A.B. filed a police report the next day.
As a result of that incident, “when [Mr. Blade] called [A.B.] … a few evenings later,” on January 21, 2021, she did not answer her phone. Later though, when she was “at home and settled,” A.B. took his call. A.B. told Mr. Blade that “him coming over was not a good idea anymore.” A.B. described Mr. Blade’s response as follows:
[A]ll, [he said was], if you don’t want me to come over and see your son, I promise you’ll end up in jail and lose your job, or you’ll end up dead. And then he used some cuss words, and I didn’t even continue the conversation with him. I just immediately hung up. And at that point, I called the police. Because I didn’t know at any point he could have showed up at my house.
Officer Paige Benson, of the Toledo Police Department, and her partner were dispatched to A.B.’s home that night. During the fifteen-minute visit, Officer Benson witnessed A.B.’s cell phone “go off … continually … over and over and over again.” Each time it did, a man’s picture appeared on A.B.’s cell phone, whom A.B. identified to police as Mr. Blade. At trial, Officer Benson also identified Mr. Blade as the person who appeared on A.B.’s phone that night.
A criminal complaint was filed against Mr. Blade, charging him with domestic violence, in violation of R.C. 2919.25(C), and menacing, in violation of O.R.C. §2903.22, both misdemeanors of the fourth degree, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. The police also filed, on A.B.’s behalf, a motion for a temporary protection order (“TPO”) against Mr. Blade.
Three days later, around 11:30 p.m. on January 24, 2022, the police located a maroon Chevy Blazer, registered in Mr. Blade’s name, that was parked in an empty lot of the Toledo Public Library on Sylvania Avenue. Officer Amber O’Connell was one of three officers who were called to serve the warrant. She testified that, as police approached the vehicle, Mr. Blade appeared to be asleep in the driver’s seat. The lead officer knocked on Mr. Blade’s car window and advised him, “[T]hrough the window” that there were “warrants for his arrest.” Mr. Blade awoke and responded that he “had no warrants” and “wasn’t getting out the vehicle.” Mr. Blade appeared to be “irate” and “immediately upset” that the police were there “knocking on his window,” and he continued “hollering” and “yelling” that he did not have any warrants and was not getting out of his vehicle. Police told Mr. Blade “numerous times,” that “we’re here for a warrant. That’s it. Just get out of the vehicle. That’s all we’re here for.” Mr. Blade’s “vehicle door was [then] opened” and Mr. Blade “was advised … to stay in the vehicle.” When Mr. Blade “reach[ed]” for something “on his right side,” police told him, “don’t reach.” The lead officer then “t[ook] him out of the vehicle” and “escorted [him] by the arm onto the ground,” while Officer O’Connell and her partner “assisted in handcuffing” him. At that time, Mr. Blade was served with the arrest warrant in the domestic violence and menacing case. He was also charged with resisting arrest, in violation of O.R.C. §2921.33, a misdemeanor in the second degree.
A hearing was held on January 26, 2022, on the issue of A.B.’s motion for a TPO. A.B. testified that Mr. Blade called her phone “over 70 times” and left “two dozen” voice mails, some of which were “nice” and some of which were “angry.” Over the objection of his counsel, Mr. Blade also testified. Much of Mr. Blade’s examination on the witness stand was conducted by the trial court. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court indicated it was “very concerned” that Mr. Blade was “not in full control of [his] emotions” and that he was “dangerous.” The court granted A.B.’s request for a TPO and entered a not guilty plea on Mr. Blade’s behalf.
A bench trial, as to both cases, was held on March 2, 2022. A.B. and Officers Benson and O’Connell, whose testimony is described above, testified on behalf of the state. After the state rested its case, the defense moved for an acquittal, which the court denied. Mr. Blade then testified in his own defense.
Mr. Blade described himself as “homeless” and living out of his car. When A.B. forced Mr. Blade to move out in December, he began “camping out” in his car, which he parked “across the street from [A.B.’s] residence … on Burton Avenue.”
With regard to the charges related to his harassing and threatening phone calls, Mr. Blade testified that he did not remember having any interaction with A.B. that day, i.e. January 21, 2022. When asked a second time, Mr. Blade testified, “[Y]ou know, I [will be] honest because I took a[n] oath. I don’t remember that at all. But I do know that [A.B.] has an app [called] Spoof,” which allows the user to “make a number appear on somebody else’s phone as if it was a different person calling.” Mr. Blade speculated that A.B. may have used Spoof to make it appear as though he was the caller because she had done that before. And, although Mr. Blade testified a third time that he did not “remember” calling A.B. on January 21, 2022, he also claimed that he “did not call and threaten her” and had “never threatened her.”
As for the resisting arrest charge, Mr. Blade adamantly denied that he was asleep when the officers arrived to serve him with a warrant. Mr. Blade testified that he saw the patrol cars enter the library parking lot and then stop, temporarily, at the opposite end of the parking lot, from Mr. Blade. Mr. Blade thought that the officers were likely “waiting for [him] to run … because [he] knew [he] had warrants already.” So, when the police drove closer to him, Mr. Blade said that he “was like, oh man. At that time, … [he] opened the door half way … [a]nd … proceeded to step out.” Before he was “all the way out,” of his vehicle, “between … the door and [his] seat,” he heard a voice say, “’[p]ut your hands up.’” Mr. Blade did as he was instructed, and said, “[d]on’t shoot.” Mr. Blade described what happened next: After that, a male police officer “came to my door, opened the rest of [the] door, … dragged me out of my car by my locks, whiplashed my back, my side, my ankle twisted, and threw me on the ground.” Mr. Blade insisted that neither of the other officers, both female, assisted in making the arrest, because he “never … resist[ed].” He described himself as fully “compliant.”.
Mr. Blade was found not guilty of menacing and guilty of domestic violence. He made two appeals to the Sixth District Appellate Court. This article will only review one.
Mr. Blade claims that the state violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, (1963) by failing to “disclose the body camera footage of [his] arrest.” Mr. Blade argues that such footage would have exonerated him of the resisting arrest offense and shown that Officer O’Connell “committed perjury on the stand.”
To establish a Brady violation, a defendant must demonstrate that:
(1) the prosecution withheld evidence,
(2) the defense was not aware of the evidence, and
(3) the withheld evidence was material and exculpatory.
Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, (1963)
Here, the trial court record contains only one reference to the officers’ use of body cameras from the time of his arrest. That is, during cross examination, Officer O’Connell confirmed that she was wearing a “body cam” at that time and that it was “active.” Defense counsel did not inquire further or request to see any footage from that night that might exist.
Mr. Blade’s Brady claim therefore fails for several reasons. First, Mr. Blade did not make any demand for discovery from the state, including any request for body camera footage, which he would have been entitled to had he requested it. Crim.R. 16(B) provides that, upon demand by a defendant, the prosecutor “shall provide copies [of] … (1) any written or recorded statement by the defendant; … [or] (5) [a]ny evidence favorable to the defendant and material to guilt or punishment.” However, for Brady to apply, Mr. Blade must be able to show “suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request.” (Emphasis added.) Brady at 87. Absent any evidence that Mr. Blade requested the evidence, much less that the state suppressed it, he cannot establish a violation under Brady.
In this case, because Mr. Blade learned of the possibility that exculpatory evidence could exist during the trial, there was no Brady violation. As explained by the court in State v. Aldridge, 120 Ohio App.3d 122, 146, (2d Dist.1997), the rationale for limiting Brady claims to those situations where the exculpatory evidence is not discovered until after the trial is that a defendant is not prejudiced where the exculpatory material is discovered before or during trial because there are other remedies available which allow the exculpatory material to be entered into evidence. Indeed, where the existence of previously undisclosed evidence becomes known at trial, a defendant may make a demand for the evidence, and “the court may ensure a fair trial by ordering inspection or discovery, granting a continuance or holding an in camera hearing.” State v. Goodwin, 7th Dist. Mahoning No. 99CA220, 2001 WL 1740065, *14. In short, Mr. Blade may not now complain about the state’s failure to produce allegedly exculpatory evidence when he passed upon the opportunity to rectify the issue during the trial.
Finally, we note that, even though Officer O’Connell’s body camera may have been “active” at the time of Mr. Blade’s arrest, there is no evidence that any footage from her body camera actually exists. Indeed, in his brief, Mr. Blade merely speculates that “body worn cameras are common for all officers now-a-days.” “Implicit within the first Finally, we note that, even though Officer O’Connell’s body camera may have been “active” at the time of Mr. Blade’s arrest, there is no evidence that any footage from her body camera actually exists. Indeed, in his brief, Mr. Blade merely speculates that “body worn cameras are common for all officers now-a-days.” “Implicit within the first element of a Brady claim is that the evidence allegedly withheld must have actually existed.” State v. Black, 2022-Ohio-3119,
For all of these reasons, Mr. Blade’s argument that he was denied due process due to nondisclosure of body camera evidence by the state is without merit. Accordingly, we overrule Mr. Blade’s first assignment of error.
Information for this article was obtained from State v. Blade, 2023 – Ohio – 658.
This case was issued by the Sixth District Appellate Court and is binding in the following Ohio Counties: Erie, Fulton, Huron, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Williams and Wood.
- On Monday May 13, 1963 the U.S. Supreme Court issued Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The court held that the prosecution, which would include law enforcement, has a duty to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense. Specifically the court held “We now hold that the suppression by the prosecution of evidence to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.” Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963)
- What is Exculpatory Evidence – Clearing or tending clear from alleged fault or guilt. Blacks Law Dictionary, 566 (6th 1990)
- In this case Mr. Blade’s appellate legal team throws a legal Hail Mary, believing that because there ‘may’ have been body camera video that the video would have cleared Mr. Blade from guilt. Of course, Mr. Blade’s legal team likely KNEW the video existed before and most certainly DURING trial but made no effort to request or review the video. Then after Mr. Blade is convicted the legal team alleges that there may be video and of course, without reviewing it, the video would clear Mr. Blade from guilt. Certainly, a unique attempt at a Brady rule application, however, the Sixth District Appellate Court in a three to zero decision held that this was not a Brady
- As a general rule law enforcement should always share videos with prosecution. Videos include body cameras, cruiser cameras or any other videos obtained from civilians. The prosecution has a duty to turn over all videos to the defense upon a Discovery Request. In this case the prosecution did not share any video with the defense because the defense did not make a request.
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