Walton Hills police release bodycam video to 19 News from alleged excessive force incident

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 10:14 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WALTON HILLS, Ohio (WOIO) - A Walton Hills police officer has been accused of excessive force. 19 News learned that two months later, that same officer also let a drunk driver go minutes before he went on to kill two people in a crash.

On Thursday, 19 News obtained body camera video from a February 2022 traffic stop that is now at the center of a federal excessive force lawsuit against the Walton Hills police department and Officer C.J. Schmidt.

“Turn into the parking lot, do it now!” Officer Schmidt yelled at 31-year-old Amanda Mills in a body camera video “Pull in!”

The body camera video starts with Walton Hills Officer C.J. Schmidt attempting to pull over mills in February of 2022. She pulls over, but Officer Schmidt yells at her to pull into a nearby parking lot several times, but she doesn’t respond.

“Do it now!” Schmidt orders. “You’re gonna get arrested!” in the body camera video, Officer Schmidt is seen saying something we can’t hear to Mills.

She responds and then Officer Schmidt is seen ripping her out of her car. There are 15 minutes of audio missing from this point on, which includes the crucial altercation. The city said parts of the body camera video were redacted to protect personal information, but no one has returned our calls about why this specific audio is missing.

On another officer’s body camera during the same moments, there is some audio but it’s difficult to hear.

Cell phone video Mills took during the altercation captures some of the missing audio. “Stop it, ow!” she yelled.

“Get out!” the officer ordered.

“What are you doing to me?” she asked.

“Get out, out of the car,” the officer said. “This is not your show, it’s mine.”

Later on the body camera video, the audio starts up again.

“Sir my car was overheating I was trying to get to the gas…” Mills said.

“Pay attention to what I said you don’t wanna listen? You don’t have to,” the officer retorted.

“No my car wouldn’t go anymore,” Mills cried. “It was smoking!”

A judge dismissed a charge of failure to comply. Mills pleaded no contest and was found guilty of speeding, 39 in a 35, but the original report said Mills was going 66 in a 35.

“The speed you were going is really dangerous and then when I get behind you and you keep going, really dangerous,” Officer Schmidt said.

“But I really didn’t see you!” Mills claimed.

“That doesn’t matter,” said Schmidt.

“Why’d you slam me into the car like that?” Mills asked.

“Because you’re obstructing,” said Schmidt.

“But I would’ve gladly gotten out of the vehicle,” Mills claimed.

The excessive force lawsuit against Officer Schmidt and the Walton Hills Police Department was filed in federal court in February. Mills’ attorney told 19 News she has potentially permanent injuries to her chest.

Two months later in April of 2022, the same officer pulled a drunk driver over for speeding but the traffic stop Officer Schmidt made on 26-year-old Nicholas Monachino couldn’t have been more different from Mills. In fact, it ended with a fist bump.

“Take it down about 30 miles an hour,” Schmidt told Monachino. Alright, cool?”

“Hey, by the way, how’s your family doing?” Monachino asked.

“Everyone’s good,” Schmidt replied.

12 minutes later Monachino crashed into the back of a couple on a motorcycle, and both died from their injuries. Monachino was intoxicated, twice the legal limit. Cocaine was also found in his system.

19 News later learned Officer Schmidt was working as the police chief at Notre Dame College in South Euclid. A dean at the school told us they were aware of the complaints against Schmidt and that they had conducted internal investigations.

19 News did reach out to the city of Walton Hills to find out if Officer Schmidt is still employed there, but the city has declined to comment due to the ongoing litigation.