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Toledo council president found unconscious on night of city address

Steven Steel can't recall details of Feb. 9 incident

The Toledo City Council president was found unconscious in a downtown parking lot after drinking in a bar the night of the State of the City address last week, The Blade has learned.

Steven Steel, who has been a councilman since July, 2007 and president for two years, said he was likely attacked but cannot remember what happened to him just after 11 p.m. Feb. 9.

“Something happened to me in the parking lot,” he said. “I was hit in the back of the head and I have an abrasion in the front of my head.”

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Toledo City Council President Steven Steel

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Mr. Steel said he had a serious concussion that rendered him unable to walk properly for at least two days.

He was found bleeding from the head and laying on the ground of the parking lot at 624 Monroe Street, which is next to Table Forty4, a popular hangout for some councilmen after council meetings. City officials, including chief of staff Mark Sobczak, other high ranking city leaders, and several councilmen were at the bar-restaurant for hours after Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson delivered her State of the City address earlier that night at the Fifth Third Center Auditorium, One SeaGate downtown.

A police report of the incident, obtained by The Blade a week after it happened, was not included in the Toledo Police department's usual posting of reports online. A daily rundown of cases assigned to police detectives and reports the department deems "unusual incidents" also did not include the report.

Police spokesman Lt. Joe Heffernan said it was not included online “because an injured person is not a crime.” The offense description on the report was “injured adult.”

A detective was assigned this week to investigate what happened to Mr. Steel. The councilman said he believes he was attacked rather than fell on his own in the parking lot. He does not remember how many drinks he had that night.

The police report, which misspelled Mr. Steel's surname as “Steele,” said he was found “lying on the ground bleeding form the head” by the person who called 911. At least two police cruisers, a fire truck, and ambulance were dispatched to the scene, the report said.

Mr. Steel and a bartender at Table Forty4 said the incident happened shorty after he left that bar. A person who was across the street at another bar found the council president while walking to his vehicle.

His wallet and phone were still on him when he was found.

Mr. Steel was taken by ambulance to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. Mr. Sobczak also went to the hospital and called Mr. Steel's wife.

Councilman Tom Waniewski, who was also at Table Forty4 but went home before Mr. Steel left, said he drove Mr. Steel to and from the State of the City. Mr. Steel introduced the mayor at the State of the City.

“We met at Table Forty4 and then I drove my car to the State of the City,” Mr. Waniewski said.

“I said 'do you want to go for drinks' and he said 'sure,' ” Mr. Waniewski said. “I left at about 8:30 and when I left, everything was good.”

Mr. Waniewski said neither Mr. Steel nor the other city officials at the bar were drinking to excess.

“When I left, we were both sober,” he said. “He doesn't live too far from there so I don't know how he was going to get home.”

Before he left, Mr. Waniewski offered to drive Mr. Steel home.

Councilman Yvonne Harper was also at the bar. 

Mr. Steel said he does not remember how he had planned to get home to the Old West End but assumed he intended to drive.

Mayor Hicks-Hudson said there was no effort to conceal the incident. She learned about it the next day. 

“There was nothing from the mayor’s office to do something that was not proper,” the mayor said. 

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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