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Police chief's lawyer warns of 'deadly force' against journalists

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Police chief's lawyer warns of 'deadly force' against journalists 06/14/99 OHIO--The lawyer for the Akron police chief and his wife…

Police chief’s lawyer warns of ‘deadly force’ against journalists

06/14/99

OHIO–The lawyer for the Akron police chief and his wife sent a letter to the Akron Beacon Journal stating that the couple would be justified in using “deadly force” against reporters who try to question the couple about allegations of domestic abuse.

In late May, attorney Ed Gilbert sent a three-page letter to the Beacon Journal warning that if the paper continued to try to contact the couple, “physical injury is imminent.”

“I’ve advised Mr. and Mrs. Irvine that they are entitled, under the law, to use whatever force necessary, up to and including deadly force, to remove any criminal trespassers, from the Beacon Journal,” Gilbert wrote in the letter. “It is obvious that the Beacon Journal employees are there to cause physical and mental injury. Therefore, as U.S. citizens, they are entitled to protect themselves.”

Gilbert later said of his letter to the Beacon Journal, “I’m telling them what the law is: if they keep violating the law, who knows what might happen.”

Gilbert has accused reporters of stalking Geneva Irvine, the wife of the police chief. The Beacon Journal denies Gilbert’s accusation, saying the newspaper has only tried to contact Irvine six times since late last year and has used normal journalistic practices to get information concerning allegations against a city official.

The couple filed an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit and a request for a restraining order against the newspaper four days after a Beacon Journal staff reporter and photographer attempted to speak with Irvine at her sister’s home in Lake Charles, La., in mid-May. Irvine moved in with her sister around Thanksgiving, about five weeks after she told an emergency-room doctor that her husband had beaten her.

Edward Irvine said that his wife has a drinking problem, and that her injuries were caused when she mixed alcohol with medication for high blood pressure, causing her to fall down a flight of stairs with a vacuum cleaner. Irvine recanted her allegations of abuse in a three- page letter to the Akron mayor in which she confirmed her husband’s account of the incident, including his statement that she had moved to Louisiana to get away from Beacon Journal reporters.

Beacon Journal lawyer Ron Kropp wrote in a reply to Gilbert, “The Beacon Journal has not felt bound by a request from Chief Irvine’s attorney to refrain from making contact with Mrs. Irvine. Obviously, however, our client will need to now consider seriously the risks posed by your threat.”