FINDLAY — One of three men who were inside the vehicle that struck and killed a Bluffton police officer during a high-speed chase nearly a year ago has been sentenced in Hancock County Common Pleas Court for his role in that incident.
As part of a deal with prosecutors, Dante Tate, 19, of Euclid, entered guilty pleas late last month to charges related to the March 31, 2022 death of Bluffton Police Officer Dominic Francis.
Francis died after he was struck and killed by a fleeing car on Interstate 75 near the Allen-Hancock county line. The veteran Bluffton police officer was setting up stop sticks, which flatten tires, in an attempt to end the chase that had reached speeds up to 120 mph and covered several counties.
Tate pleaded guilty in Hancock County Common Pleas Court to single counts of complicity to receiving stolen property and receiving stolen property, each felonies of the fourth degree, related to Francis’ death. In exchange for that plea prosecutors dismissed counts of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle and grand theft of a motor vehicle.
Judge Reginald Routson sentenced Tate to prison terms of 15 months on each count, to be served consecutive to one another. The 30-month sentence will also be served consecutively to a two-year prison sentence issued to Tate by a Medina County judge late last year for failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer and receiving property, felonies of the third- and fourth-degree, respectively.
Tate was one of three occupants of the speeding car, along with Emin Johnson and Zachary Love, that struck Francis. The trio abandoned that car after the incident and Tate stole a 2010 Toyota Prius from a residence outside Bluffton and drove it to Medina County, where he was arrested. Johnson and Love were arrested near Bluffton and are being held in the Hancock County jail.
Johnson, 21, of Euclid, faces charges that include two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with Francis’ death. Prosecutors say Johnson was the driver of the stolen 2020 Buick Infiniti that struck Francis. He is scheduled to stand trial on April 24 in Hancock County.
A trial date of March 27 has been set for Love, 22, of Columbus, who is charged with receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence, having weapons under disability, improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property.