Slow due process is horrible lesson for young victim

Many — especially crime victims — likely would argue the wheels of justice often grind much more slowly than they would desire.

We suspect the family of a Trumbull County teenage skateboarder whose foot was run over by a car driven by a man who left the scene in July 2018 would agree.

At that time, the boy’s father who called 911 identified the driver of the vehicle as Ernest Cook, director of the Trumbull County 911 Center. The man told 911 dispatchers his son was struck by a vehicle possibly driven by Cook and that Cook’s son, Ernest Cook Jr., was driving behind his father when the collision occurred, the report states. The younger Cook returned to the scene of the accident with his father’s vehicle, the original report stated.

That night, Brookfield police found Cook Sr. at his residence, where he smelled strongly of alcohol, slurred his speech significantly and appeared highly intoxicated, the report states. The Ohio State Highway Patrol arrived, and Brookfield police told them what happened and that they were monitoring Cook in his home to ensure he didn’t consume alcohol, the report states.

Cook had admitted to driving, but he told the state patrol he didn’t know he struck a pedestrian. Rather, he thought it might have been an animal, the report states. His blood-alcohol content measured .125 when blowing into a portable breath tester. He agreed to take a test at Brookfield police department where it registered at .148, the report states. The legal limit for driving in Ohio is .08.

Now, more than two years later, Cook, 68, was charged last month with two misdemeanor charges in Eastern District Court in Brookfield. He faces a first-degree misdemeanor count of loss of physical control under the influence and a minor misdemeanor accusing him of failing to report an accident, court records show. The charges were filed by a state patrol trooper.

Just weeks after the incident in 2018, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins petitioned the court to bring in an independent prosecutor due to a conflict of interest. Daniel Kasaris, senior assistant Ohio attorney general, was appointed as special prosecutor.

Still the case took years to get to this point.

Cook also previously served as police chief in Brookfield and Vienna townships and as chief deputy with the Trumbull County Sheriff’s office. Indeed, he is someone in a position of power and trust, and these charges must not be taken lightly.

Undoubtedly, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and we will wait to see whether Cook is convicted or acquitted. Until then, however, we all should be able to agree the victim and his family should not have been forced to wait so long for their hope for justice to even reach this point.

Frankly, this young victim is learning a horrible lesson about the wheels of justice.


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