Officer accused of battery gets mistrial, and acquittal

December 23, 1993|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writer

A Baltimore County judge declared a mistrial yesterday after a jury failed to reach a verdict in the case of a Baltimore police officer charged with the beating of a Dundalk youth after a snowball-throwing incident last February.

The jury did acquit Nicholas Pelekakis, 38, of committing battery on another youth in the fracas, while a battery charge involving a third youth was dismissed during by Circuit Judge Robert E. Cahill Jr.

A juror said afterward that the panel had deadlocked 8-4 in favor of conviction on the most serious charge of battery -- that he broke the nose of Douglas E. Cloude 17.

Officer Pelekakis is also involved in civil litigation surrounding the fatal shooting of a young carjacking suspect in the city last March. The dead youth's family is claiming that had the officer been suspended from duty because of the Baltimore County charges, the shooting would not have occurred.

The Western District patrolman has been assigned to administrative duties since the shooting.

According to testimony, the 15-year veteran was off-duty, riding in a car driven by his fiancee in the 8000 block of Gray Haven Road in Dundalk at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 26, when the vehicle was struck by an ice ball and skidded on the slippery street, narrowly missing a parked automobile.

The policeman testified that he got out of the car and chased three youths, Damon McFadden, 17; Robert Duprey Jr., 18; and young Cloude. Two blocks away, he said, they stopped running and he confronted them.

Officer Pelekakis testified that during the resulting fight, the Cloude youth reached into his pocket and stole $73. Young Cloude and others testified that the money fell from the coat, and that the Cloude youth picked it up and tried to run off with it.

According to testimony, the officer retrieved his espantoon from the car and caught up with the Cloude youth, who was being held on the ground by Nyles Miller, a resident who had intervened earlier. Officer Pelekakis said he struck the youth in the legs with the nightstick after the youth tried to kick him.

As the youth got to his feet, the officer struck him across the face with the nightstick and broke his nose, according to other testimony.

Charges that Officer Pelekakis subsequently filed against the three youths were dropped, and prosecutors brought the policeman to trial.

Officer Pelekakis still faces a civil action in connection with the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Antoine Johnson on March 22 in the 3300 block of Park Circle.

The teen-ager was shot after Officer Pelekakis spotted a stolen car with three youths inside. He said, that while he was arresting two of the youths, the third -- who turned out to be young Johnson -- threw the car into reverse and tried to run him down.

A city grand jury decided not to indict the Western District officer, but the dead youth's family ultimately filed a $20 million claim against Officer Pelekakis and the city.

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