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Cops & Courts

Off-duty Medina Township officer faces OVI charges

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MEDINA — An off-duty Medina Township police officer is facing a charge of operating a motor vehicle while impaired after an incident on St. Patrick’s Day, according to a Medina police report.

Police was dispatched to the 900 block of Beechwood Drive at 10:53 p.m. Sunday after receiving a 911 call about a driver slumped over the wheel of a Dodge Challenger.

According to dashcam video obtained by The Gazette, when an officer arrived at the scene, the blue Dodge Challenger was found stopped in the middle of the street. The keys were in the ignition and the car was still in drive.

The driver was identified as Cliff Nicholson, 42, an officer with Medina Township police.

Nicholson is scheduled to be arraigned in Medina Municipal Court at 8:30 a.m. today.

Nicholson, who has been on the Medina Township police force since 2004, refused to take a Breathalyzer test, Medina police said. Police said they weren’t sure where he was coming from or heading on the night of the incident.

Medina Township Police Chief Travis Colonius said he has viewed the police report and video of the incident.

“That’s one side (of the story),” Colonius said. “Cliff will have his day in court to tell his side of the story.

“After all the facts, I’m sure there will be some type of discipline.”

In additional body camera video, officers almost immediately know they are dealing with a police officer.

“It’s Nicholson,” an officer is heard saying on the video. “He’s annihilated.”

Nicholson tells officers he was just trying to get home. He said he was not carrying his off-duty weapon.

He is taken out of the car and in an exchange with Medina police did not realize that he had stopped his car in the middle of an intersection and told the officers he had no reason to stop him.

“No, I didn’t stop you. … No, I didn’t. You were stopped, passed out in the middle of a roadway,” the officer said to Nicholson.

After refusing sobriety tests, Nicholson was handcuffed and read his rights.

Colonius praised Nicholson’s work in the department.

“He’s been on active patrol,” he said. “He’s been a good employee and police officer. I was surprised and disappointed by his actions.”

Colonius said Nicholson was on sick leave Thursday, but he is scheduled to work today.

Nicholson attended Bowling Green State University and graduated from the Toledo Police Academy at Owens College in 2001. While in the academy, he worked as an on-campus security officer and a part-time police officer in Sandusky County.

He is a member of the Medina County SWAT team and holds an oath with the Medina County OVI Task Force and Criminal Interdiction. Nicholson also works with children in the Medina County Police Athletic League.

An message left for Nicholson was not returned.

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Contact reporter Bob Finnan at rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.

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