CLEVELAND, OH – Omnisun Azali’s attorney, Jeffrey Saffold, says his client shot his wife to death after she started shooting first. According to Saffold his client’s acts were in self-defense. Mwaka Azali, the mother of Omnisun’s two children, was allegedly trying to take his life just like Calvin Williams’ late brother’s wife took his. William Williams was shot to death in their Glenville home by a woman, Dana Johnson, who had been his wife.
At the home the Azali couple shared at 144 E. 265th Street in Euclid, Ohio the city’s municipal court records and published reports are showing the Cleveland suburb’s police retrieved and are supposed to be testing two weapons with the help of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations under the supervision of Ohio Attorney General David Yost. A handgun was found next to Azali’s wife’s body and Euclid police have confirmed that shells from two weapons were fired and retrieved.
The investigation is ongoing and it’s the reason Euclid police are giving reporters who they’ve unlawfully denied access to the incident report that becomes a public record upon creation. Incident reports are not “law enforcement investigatory records” and police and prosecutors have no legal authority to withhold them. That conclusion was made by the Supreme Court of Ohio in 1994 and repeated by the court in 2020 to law enforcement officers, again, in Cobb v. Summit Cty. Prosecutor, 2020-Ohio-636.
“Incident reports initiate criminal investigations, but are not part of the investigation. Incident reports are thus not confidential law enforcement investigatory records, and are public records subject to immediate release upon request. Maurer at 56; Steckman v. Jackson, 70 Ohio St.3d 420, 639 N.E.2d 83 (1994), paragraph five of the syllabus.
Untrained, uncertified and violent Euclid police under Mayor Gail Holzheimer aren’t presuming Azali’s innocence in what his lawyer claims was an act of self-defense. They’re trying to “build” a criminal case against an American citizen who has already been charged with “murder” before the investigation is over in a state that offers citizns facing life and death situations the “self-defense affirmative defense.”
Azali could be truthful. His wife could have indeed been trying to shoot him to death. But a charge of murder makes Azali appear guilty to the public even before law enforcement officials have completed an investigation. He’s also been convicted by Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish’s administration with a termination from his job as county Information Technology specialist.
When his mother, an attorney and Cuyahoga County Court of Common pleas judge, tried to surrender Azali to Euclid police by driving him back to the home he’d left in obvious shock over what had happened the city’s cops pulled guns on them both. Sandra Colliers-Williams is heard telling a Euclid police dispatcher she was a county “judge.”
The dispatcher instructed Judge Colliers-Williams that they both should keep their hands up when she arrived at her son’s home. She’s heard telling the dispatcher the couple were shooting at each other and she thought her 37-year-old daughter-in-law, Mwaka Azali, might be “wounded.”
Judge Colliers-Williams had called 911 to let Euclid dispatchers know and share her plans but it didn’t matter. Cops pulled guns on the unarmed mother and son when she arrived at the home the couple shared. That’s according to “published” media reports.
The only facts known to Euclid Municipal Court Judge Patrick Gallagher when municipal prosecutor Kelly Sweeney’s office filed a “murder” charge against Azali was that a shooting occured at the couple’s home and he was alleging through his attorney, Saffold, that his role in the marital violence was an act of “self defense.” Mason is a relatively inexperienced attorney the Supreme Court of Ohio’s “attorney directory” identifies as having been admitted to practice law in the state on November 13, 2017. Attorney Kelly Sweeney is Holzheimer’s director of law and chief prosecutor.
Section 2901.05(A) of the Ohio Revised Code establishes that every person accused of an offense is “presumed innocent,” but that’s not the criminal justice paradigm driving the conduct of Euclid police, prosecutors and now Colliers-Williams fellow judges in Cuyahoga County. They’ve accepted Sweeney and Mason’s “rush” prosecution and are now processing the criminal charge filed by the city’s prosecutors as valid in a state with its own version of Florid’a “stand your ground” law.
A) Every person accused of an offense is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and the burden of proof for all elements of the offense is upon the prosecution. The burden of going forward with the evidence of an affirmative defense, and the burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, for an affirmative defense other than self-defense, defense of another, or defense of the accused’s residence as described in division (B)(1) of this section, is upon the accused.
(B)(1) A person is allowed to act in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence. If, at the trial of a person who is accused of an offense that involved the person’s use of force against another, there is evidence presented that tends to support that the accused person used the force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person did not use the force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, as the case may be.
Section (B)(1) clearly articulates – had Euclid’s prosecutors, judge and police bothered to read it – that “a person is allowed to act in self-defense…” With two weapons in the city of Euclid’s possession neither the police nor the prosecuting attorney have evidence that Omnisun Azali was “not” acting in self-defense. Police captain Mitch Houser’s claim to be pursuing “justice” for Mwaka affirms that before the investigation is over he’s already concluded Omnisun is guilty.
Pursuant to Section 2903.02(A) of the Ohio Revised Code a murder charge requires Azali’s shooting of his wife to have been “purposeful” or done while he was “committing or attempting to commit an offense of violence that is a felony of the first or second degree.”
(A) No person shall purposely cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy. (B) No person shall cause the death of another as a proximate result of the offender’s committing or attempting to commit an offense of violence that is a felony of the first or second degree and that is not a violation of section 2903.03 or 2903.04 of the Revised Code. (C) Division (B) of this section does not apply to an offense that becomes a felony of the first or second degree only if the offender previously has been convicted of that offense or another specified offense. (D) Whoever violates this section is guilty of murder, and shall be punished as provided in section 2929.02 of the Revised Code.
Nothing in the facts thus far presented through Euclid’s municipal court by the city’s prosecutors fits the elements that support the “murder” charge found in Section 2903.02(A) of the Ohio Revised Code. Azali had allegedly arrived at the the family’s home to pick up the couple’s son for a doctor’s appointment. According to one of my sources their children were already in his car when the shooting started.
In listening to the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) recording of the conversation between Judge Collier-Williams and a Euclid dispatcher one can hear the sadness in her voice as she offers what it appears she was told by her son. Omnisun Azali and the mother of her grandchildren were engaged in a gunfight and his wife may be wounded.
Ohio media outlets for some reason have added “no duty to retreat” language to a law that does nothing more than offer the average citizen the same “affirmative defense” as law enforcement officers who claim to be “in fear for their lives” when they shoot and then kill unarmed American citizens.
I’ve shared all of Section 2901.05 of the Ohio Revised Code below that took effect on April 6, 2021. What I shared above was a summary. The law does not apply “retroactively” and there are significant language differences between similiar “affirmative defense” laws enacted by Ohio and Florida’s General Assemblies.
The Florida statute is codified as Chapter 776.013 of the state’s Revised Statutes. It is captioned “Justifiable use of force.” The Florida law means nothing in the state of Ohio.
Home protection; use or threatened use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.— (1) A person who is in a dwelling or residence in which the person has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use: (a) Nondeadly force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force; or (b) Deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
The heading of Section 2901.05 of the Ohio Revised Code reads, “Burden of proof – reasonable doubt – self-defense.” Omnisun Azali’s attorney has offered it as the affirmative defense he intends to use to defend his client’s “innocence.” Cleveland area residents following the unfolding events will soon learn if attorney Saffold will make it stick.
(1) An “affirmative defense” is either of the following:
(a) A defense expressly designated as affirmative;
(b) A defense involving an excuse or justification peculiarly within the knowledge of the accused, on which the accused can fairly be required to adduce supporting evidence.
(2) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind that has a roof over it and that is designed to be occupied by people lodging in the building or conveyance at night, regardless of whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent or is mobile or immobile. As used in this division, a building or conveyance includes, but is not limited to, an attached porch, and a building or conveyance with a roof over it includes, but is not limited to, a tent.
(3) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as a guest.
(4) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, that is designed to transport people or property.
(E) “Reasonable doubt” is present when the jurors, after they have carefully considered and compared all the evidence, cannot say they are firmly convinced of the truth of the charge. It is a doubt based on reason and common sense. Reasonable doubt is not mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs or depending on moral evidence is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is proof of such character that an ordinary person would be willing to rely and act upon it in the most important of the person’s own affairs.