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Published: Thursday, 3/31/2011

Ex-Ottawa Hills officer appeals conviction in shooting case


Michael McCloskey, left, was shot and paralyzed by former Ottawa Hills police officer Thomas White. White is appealing his conviction. Michael McCloskey, left, was shot and paralyzed by former Ottawa Hills police officer Thomas White. White is appealing his conviction.
An attorney for Thomas White filed the appeal of his felonious assault conviction Wednesday, saying in one claim that the former Ottawa Hills police officer was "acting under a good faith mistake" and so should "have immunity from criminal prosecution."

The 35-page appeal was filed in the 6th District Court of Appeals Wednesday, about 10 months after White was convicted of shooting a motorcyclist during a traffic stop. The appeal lists six legal arguments, including that the convictions were "legally insufficient" because he did not "act knowingly to harm" the victim.

White, 28, of Toledo was convicted in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on May 14 of felonious assault with a gun specification for the May, 2009, shooting of Michael McClos- key. After a week-long trial, the jury deliberated for about six hours before reaching a verdict.

The following month White was sentenced to seven years in prison for the assault conviction plus an additional three years for the gun specification. He remains free on bond pending appeal.

Mr. McCloskey was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting. A civil lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in Toledo.

White's appeal alleges several errors, including a contention that the jury "lost its way" and that the trial court erred in several rulings.

Also listed as an error was the contention that it was "unconstitutional to convict White for a firearms specification given he was required to carry firearm in the [course] of his employment."

"The [Ohio] statute was designed to 'up the ante' when criminals chose to insert a firearm into a criminal situation," appellate attorney Deborah Rump wrote in the brief. "In this case, White was required to have and use that firearm as a police officer. He did not possess the weapon with the intent of causing criminal harm."

The prosecutor's office has 30 days to respond in writing to the appeal. Both parties can then opt to argue the issue before a three-judge panel of the appellate court.

Jeff Lingo, chief of the prosecutor's office's criminal division and a member of the prosecution team at White's trial, said, "We believe the case was fairly tried and the jury reached the correct verdict. We will analyze the arguments of the defendant and respond at the appropriate time."

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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