Charges dropped against disabled Marine vet accused of clashing with cops

After a video went viral on TikTok, charges against Melroy Cort of Ohio were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled.

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Charges against a disabled Marine veteran in Ohio were dropped after video footage of an alleged dispute over a damaged fence went viral on TikTok.

According to The Newark Advocate, on Oct. 21, authorities were sent to the Etna residence of U.S. Marine Cpl. Melroy Cort in response to a report. Alexander Caldwell, a deputy with the Licking County Sheriff’s Office, was informed by dispatchers that a man was disputing verbally with his neighbor and utilizing large machinery to tear down the caller’s fence.

Johnnessa Justice and Zack Sarver, Pataskala Division of Police officers, were also sent to the scene. Licking County Sheriff’s Col. Chad Dennis said his office makes an effort to send more than one deputy whenever possible in such instances, and none of theirs were nearby.

US Marine Cpl. Melroy Cort
Deputies were sent to the Etna residence of U.S. Marine Cpl. Melroy Cort (above) last month in response to a report of a criminal inflicting bodily harm/verbal disturbance. He was detained after being acccused of assaulting them. (Photo: Screenshot/ to Towers Foundation)

In the video posted to TikTok on Monday, Caldwell detains Cort after he allegedly attacked police officers summoned to the scene.

@jolly_good_ginger This is for educational purposes, TikTok. Blow this up. This is egregious. Cpl (Ret) Mel Cort deserves justice and accountability. #greenscreenvideo #greenscreen ♬ original sound – Jolly

Specifying “conflicting surveys done since the filing of this charge and has led to a property line dispute” in a court entry, officials sought to dismiss misdemeanor charges of criminal damaging/endangering, resisting arrest, failing to divulge personal information, and disorderly conduct against Cort Wednesday. The charges were dropped, but without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled.

Body camera footage obtained by The Advocate reportedly shows Cort requesting officers to leave his property multiple times. Officers attempted to justify their presence and learn more about the dispute.

Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp stated that their administrative team reviewed over three hours of footage from the initial call and Cort’s resulting arrest.

“I feel our officers acted appropriately, complied with the Licking County Sheriff’s Office policies, and in our opinion, showed remarkable restraint with the subject,” said Thorp, according to The Advocate.

In 2005, Cort lost both his legs, sustained irreversible damage to his right hand, plus suffered a severe brain injury and post-traumatic stress four months into his deployment to Iraq.

In the body camera clip, he can be seen repeatedly knocking into Justice and Sarver with his wheelchair after Justice moved to obstruct Sarver’s path. Sarver allegedly tried to step in to stop Cort from punching Justice.

According to Deputy Caldwell’s account of the encounter, Cort used his hands to shove the deputy off of him aggressively. Caldwell then tried to handcuff Cort, who allegedly refused to comply with repeated orders to put his hands behind his back and allow the cops to handcuff him. As a result, the officers pulled Cort from his wheelchair and set him down in the grass so they could handcuff him, and then moved him back.

The body camera footage shows one of the police officers kneeling on Cort’s upper back as the handcuffs are applied. It shows the officer’s knee resting on Cort’s back for fewer than 15 seconds.

Before being taken to the Licking County Justice Center, Pataskala officer Justice claimed that Cort spit water on Caldwell, which the accused denies. Cort can be seen spewing water on video, but it’s unclear where it lands.

Police Chief Bruce Brooks of Pataskala said he thought the city’s officers handled themselves well throughout the incident.

“I feel that the officers were put in a bad situation,” said Brooks, The Advocate reported.

Cort and his family, which includes his wife, Samantha, and their 10 children, lost their home in a fire four years ago. In 2020, they received a new smart home thanks to a collaboration between the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and A Soldier’s Journey Home.

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