WAPAKONETA — An Auglaize County jury deliberated for less than two hours Monday before returning a split verdict in the trial of a former Lima police officer charged with obstructing official business and resisting arrest during an incident last summer in Wapakoneta.
The panel of five men and three women found Veronica Sepulveda not guilty on the obstructing charge, but returned a guilty verdict on the resisting arrest count.
Sepulveda, 36, of Napoleon, was on trial in Auglaize Municipal Court in connection with an incident that occurred on East Pearl Street in Wapakoneta which led to her arrest as well as the arrest of her then-boyfriend, Tyler Dunlap. Both were employed by the Lima Police Department at the time.
On that date paramedics from the Wapakoneta Fire Department were dispatched to the Pearl Street residence in response to a report of a female with head injuries. Patrick Mullen, an EMT with the fire department, testified the female — identified as Sepulveda — admitted she had been drinking heavily that day. He said the woman had fallen while jumping over a fence at the residence and suffered head injuries that later required treatment at a hospital. Mullen said Dunlap was “causing interference” at the scene and remained so close to Sepulveda that treatment could not be administered.
Lt. Shannon Place of the Wapakoneta Police Department also responded to the scene. She told jurors that Dunlap was refusing to obey her command to back away and allow paramedics to treat Sepulveda.
“I tried to get some space between them. I asked him (Dunlap) to stand up and walk away and he declined in a manner that I felt (indicated) he wanted to fight. I told him he would be placed under arrest for obstruction and he started to pull away from me. Then I unholstered my Taser,” Place testified.
The officer testified that Sepulveda then approached and “tried to bat my Taser away with her hand. She made physical contact with me and interrupted my arrest” of Dunlap.
Jurors viewed two segments of video taken from the body camera worn by Place, although Defense Attorney Thomas Lucente and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Reed Searcy offered drastically different versions of just what it was those jurors witnessed.
Searcy said the video showed Sepulveda touching the police officer, but Lucente begged to differ. He told jurors there was no clear indication that any contact between the two occurred and noted that Place’s official incident report made no mention of physical contact.
Lucente stressed that the video shows his client urging Dunlap to “calm down” and “go, go, go” when asked by Place to leave the defendant’s side.
Sepulveda gave her version of the events from the witness stand. She admitted to having consumed a large amount of alcohol in the hours leading up to the arrival of EMTs and testified that she passed out and injured her head that day due to a pre-existing neck injury. She denied attempting to interfere with Dunlap’s arrest.
“I kept telling him (Dunlap) to just go away … to leave … to go, go,” she testified.
She also denied making contact with Place and said she was unaware that the officer had drawn her Taser.
“There was a lot of yelling and screaming and I just wanted everything to stop,” she said.
Sepulveda also testified that she was “forced to resign” her position with the Lima Police Department following the incident.
Sentencing for Sepulveda will be held at a later date.
Dunlap, also a former Lima cop, resigned from the department in late December. He pleaded guilty in February to misdemeanor charges of assault, resisting arrest and obstructing official business that stemmed from the June 2022 incident and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and five years on probation.