Case bound over to grand jury for man who punched cop

By Joe Gorman


A city police officer who was punched in the back of the head several times last week by a man testified he and his partner and three others struggled with the man before other officers arrived.

The testimony from Pedro Bonilla, a 27-year veteran of the force, came during a preliminary hearing Wednesday in municipal court on a felony charge of assault on a police officer against Terry Thomas, 25, of Brookfield.

When the hearing was completed, Judge Elizabeth Kobly found there was probable cause to have the case heard by a Mahoning County grand jury along with misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and aggravated menacing. Thomas has been in the county jail since his arraignment Aug. 17 on bond of $15,000.

Bonilla was one of two officers called about 2:55 p.m. Aug. 16 to the Walgreen’s on McCartney Road for a man who would not leave the store after being asked. When Bonilla arrived, the first officer who was called, Thomas Wisener, already was struggling with Thomas, and the store manager told Bonilla that Wisener was in trouble.

Bonilla testified he tried to help Wisener, but the pair struggled with Thomas and they fell to the ground. Before they could get Thomas cuffed, he punched Bonilla several times in the back of the head.

At one point, the manager tried to hold down Thomas’ legs, and two paramedics who were driving by also stopped to try to get Thomas calmed down.

“He was struggling powerfully,” Bonilla said. He said after Thomas was cuffed he continued to hold the five at bay for at least 10 minutes before three other officers showed up and they were able to place him in a cruiser.

Reports said he threatened officers in the cruiser on the way to the jail, then struggled with corrections officers. Five corrections officers were needed to get control of Thomas at the jail, reports said.

The manager testified he was asked by an assistant manager to talk to Thomas because he was making “flirtatious” comments toward women in the store. He said Thomas appeared drunk, and he ignored at least 15 minutes of requests to leave the store before police were called. The manager said Thomas was waiting for a store employee who has since filed for a restraining order against Thomas.

Thomas jabbed the manager in the chest with his finger, and when Wisener arrived and came in the store, Thomas pushed him in the back as they were walking out of the store, the manager said.

“He just wouldn’t stop,” the manager said of Thomas struggling with police. “He just kept fighting and fighting and fighting.”