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Video shows Toledo council president drinking before being found unconscious

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The video shows Mr. Steel talking, laughing, and drinking with Kevin McCarthy, Toledo commissioner of fleet and facilities.

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A video of Toledo City Council President Steven Steel shortly before he sustained a serious head injury the night of the state of the city address shows him drinking heavily — at least three beers and two shots in about 20 minutes.

Mr. Steel, 54, was found Feb. 9 unconscious and bleeding from his head on the ground of a downtown parking lot after drinking in at Table Forty 4, a popular hangout for some councilmen after council meetings.

Mr. 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 about 11 p.m. Feb. 9.

Video from the bar, released by Toledo Police and obtained today by The Blade, shows Mr. Steel drinking between 10:15 p.m. and about 10:25 p.m. He finished what appeared to be a pint of beer at 10:15; four minutes later, at 10:19, he dropped a shot into a pint glass of beer and chugged the drink. He then ordered a bottle of beer at 10:22, and at 10:25 he chugged another shot and beer.

VIDEO: Toledo Council President Steven Steel on Feb. 9

The video shows Mr. Steel talking, laughing, and drinking with Kevin McCarthy, Toledo commissioner of fleet and facilities.

Mr. McCarthy appears in the video at 10:38 p.m. to try and stop Mr. Steel from leaving. Both men can be seen with hands on each other as Mr. Steel appears wobbly and attempts to leave the area of the bar where they were drinking.

Mr. McCarthy declined to comment today. 

Dave Scherting, the city's director of information technology, can be seen on the video at 10:38 p.m. approaching Mr. Steel and Mr. McCarthy — just before Mr. Steel leaves.

Mr. Scherting said Mr. Steel did not seem intoxicated.

“He said he was leaving, said good bye and I went back to my conversation,” Mr. Scherting said. “We were talking quite a bit; he was watching the Columbus Blue Jackets and he was giving me an update; we talked a little bit about work.”

Mr. Steel returned moments later for his jacket when Mr. McCarthy and an unidentified man can be seen holding Mr. Steel.

The council president left the bar and bumped into Councilman Peter Ujvagi, who was standing at the bar, perpendicular to where Mr. Steel and Mr. McCarthy were drinking.

He was found nearly an hour later unconscious in the adjacent parking lot.

Mr. Steel confirmed that his vehicle was parked in the downtown parking lot where he was found. 

Toledo police released security footage Monday showing a man passing and running back to assist the injured city council president in the parking lot.

Police said there are no obvious signs of assault from the incident.

Mr. Steel said he couldn’t remember what happened to him outside the downtown bar-restaurant but thinks he “got hit from behind.” He said he had a serious concussion, eight stitches on the back of his head, and an injury on the front of his head. The councilman was transported by ambulance to Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center.

“I can’t remember, that’s just my assumption,” he said.

Mr. Steel said he does not think he was intoxicated Feb. 9 and does not usually drink until he is intoxicated.

“If there were times that I could not have driven, I would not have driven,” he said.

Mr. Steel was sentenced in August, 2002, by a Toledo Municipal Court judge for reckless operation on streets, public, or private property, amended from DUI, alcohol and/​or drug of abuse. 

The security footage video was taken from outside of M’ Osteria Bar & Lounge, 611 Monroe St. It is across the street from the parking lot where Mr. Steel was found unconscious and bleeding from the head. The camera does not point directly toward that parking lot at 624 Monroe next to Table Forty 4, the location where Mr. Steel had been that night.

The video shows a man, believed to be Mike Plotner, 36, of Rossford, passing the parking lot and running back to the area where Mr. Steel was found. Mr. Plotner called 911, according to a Toledo police report. He could not be reached for comment.

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