Tension grows in Coitsville cruiser crash probe

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As more is learned about what led to this week’s crash involving a Coitsville police cruiser, tension is growing over the way the incident is being investigated.

A statement released Friday afternoon by Coitsville Police Chief Mike Morris complains about the way his cruiser’s dashboard camera and recording equipment were taken by Youngstown police, who are looking into Wednesday’s crash. It happened as Coitsville officer Donald Dudley was chasing a pair of suspected car thieves.

According to reports, Dudley spotted the suspected thieves near the corner of Oak Street and U.S. Route 422 in the township, but the chase quickly led into Youngstown’s East Side and a frantic 911 call for help after the crash, which injured Renee McConnell of Hubbard, who remains hospitalized.

The chief wrote that he is concerned the video equipment will end up being ruined, leaving the Coitsville Police Department little useable evidence to either find the suspects or conduct their own review of Wednesday’s chase and subsequent crash.

“What we’re trying to do is investigate it as soon as possible and as fast as possible to try to find the people that were involved in this,” Morris said.

In his statement, Morris complains his department has been stymied in its investigation by Youngstown police, who took the dashboard camera and video equipment from Dudley’s wrecked cruiser for their review of the crash.

Morris wrote that he’s hoping Youngstown officials will return the missing video equipment so his officers can try and salvage what’s on it, adding “it’s a long shot,” but he thinks if YPD returns the video card and it hasn’t been damaged, his officers can still obtain useful evidence for both departments.

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