Summit County is turning its investigation of former Akron Police Chief James Nice over to Cuyahoga County.
Summit County prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh has asked Cuyahoga County to provide a special prosecutor to oversee the potential criminal case against Nice. In a statement, she says her office has “a realistic concern that there may be a conflict in handling a criminal case or investigation.
“Based on the working relationship between the prosecutor’s office and the largest police department in the county, this appointment removes any concerns or appearances that could lead to questions of fairness or bias," Walsh says.
Meanwhile, Akron mayor Dan Horrigan has appointed special investigators from Cuyahoga County to supply the special prosecutor with information.
In a statement, Horrigan said he’s doing that to “ensure the special prosecutor has sufficient resources to execute a fair and timely examination of the facts. The residents of Akron, and the men and women of the Akron Police Department, deserve no less than that.”
Nice was forced to retire Sunday night after what Horrigan called a pattern of conduct unbecoming of an officer. The allegations include that Nice made derogatory – including racial -- comments about fellow officers, had a relationship with a subordinate and that he tried to intervene in a criminal case involving his nephew.
According to the Beacon Journal, the nephew, Joe Nice, claims the former chief tried to use his influence to hurt his defense against criminal charges that he forged a car title and sold the vehicle. He claims the Akron Police Department withheld evidence “at the direction of my uncle.”
Ex-Chief Nice has said he regrets any inappropriate behavior or comments, but "categorically" denies any criminal behavior.