Former Walton Hills officer facing lawsuit previously let drunk driver go, killing 2 in crash

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 10:28 PM EST
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WALTON MILLS, Ohio (WOIO) - A Walton Hills police officer is facing a federal lawsuit alleging excessive force.

19 News learned that the officer made another traffic stop two months later where he let a drunk driver go. That driver went on to kill a young couple.

“The absolute worst part is that you left them laying there, dying. They must have been terrified,” said the heartbroken mother of 29-year-old Ryan Tucholsky at his killer’s sentencing in Portage County last year.

Nicholas Monachino, 26, pled guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Just 12 minutes before the horrific hit-and-run crash, Monachino was pulled over by Walton Hills Police Officer C.J. Schmidt.

“Honestly, I as soon as I passed you, I was you know, obviously is like not the right time,” a visibly inebriated Monachino said in the body camera video. “Not the right place.”

“Do you think you’re going a little fast?” Officer Schmidt asked.

“Yeah, no, be honest here,” Monachino replied.

Schmidt is the same officer now facing an excessive force lawsuit for how he treated a woman during a traffic stop in February 2022.

The traffic stop he made on Monachino in April couldn’t have been more different. 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 the officer.

“Everyone’s good, everyone’s good,” Schmidt replied.

“How was your Easter?” Monachino asked.

“Good,” said Schmidt. “Give me a fist bump.”

“You made a friend,” another officer said to Schmidt right before he leaves the traffic stop.

“We’re gonna be exchanging Christmas cards,” Schmidt replied.

Just 12 minutes later Monachino drove from Walton Hills to Aurora.

He was on State Route 82 when he crashed into the back of Tuchlosky and his 40-year-old girlfriend Sara Tartaglio on a motorcycle.

Tartaglio died at the hospital that day. Tucholsky died four days later.

Officers on scene of the fatal crash noted a strong smell of alcohol coming off Monachino.

They also found a six-pack of beer and an empty can in his car, something Officer Schmidt seemed to have missed.

“You don’t smell anything on him, right?” another officer asked Schmidt during the traffic stop with Monachino.

“No,” Schmidt replied. “I don’t get any indication but it’s the I don’t wanna talk to the cop’s thing, you know one of those and that’s fine.”

As it turns out, Monachino was intoxicated, twice the legal limit. There was also cocaine and other drugs found in his system.

19 News reached out to the Village of Walton Hills for a comment. The law director said they have no comment.

19 News then got a tip that Schmidt is currently working as the police chief at Notre Dame College in South Euclid. We even found that information on their website.

So, we went to see if he was there but was told he went home for the day.

“The administration is aware of the complaints and we’ve addressed them we think appropriately and have conducted internal investigations,” said Florentine Hoelker, Dean of Online Programs and Strategic Initiatives at Notre Dame College.