Suspect in Bluffton officer death takes plea deal in Hancock County charges

Dante Tate
Dante Tate(Source: Medina County Jail)
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 7:36 PM EST
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FINDLAY, Ohio (WTVG) - One of three suspects charged in connection to the hit-and-run death of a Bluffton police officer was convicted of several charges in Hancock County after he took a plea deal.

According to court records, Dante Tate pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property and complicity to receiving stolen property Tuesday, with prosecutors dropping charges of improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle and theft or grand theft of a motor vehicle. Tate was also previously convicted on charges out of Medina County stemming from the incident, sentenced to two years when he was convicted of failure to comply and receiving stolen property charges.

Tate and two others were charged after allegedly leading police on a chase throughout Ohio that killed Bluffton Police Officer Dominic Francis in March of 2022. Police say Francis was deploying stop sticks on I-75 in Hancock County to stop the suspects when the suspect vehicle hit him.

After the suspect vehicle hit Francis, police say the three suspects got out and ran away, sparking an hours-long manhunt. According to officials, Tate stole a Toyota Prius and led police on yet another chase when a trooper spotted him on I-71 near Medina. The vehicle was eventually stopped at SR-57 in Elyria.

Court records show Emin Johnson is facing a slew of charges including involuntary manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide, receiving stolen property, failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, possession of criminal tools, tampering with evidence, failure to stop after an accident, improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle, and having weapons under disability. Zachary Love is facing charges including receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence, having weapons under disability, and improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle. He was taken into police custody in Hancock County. Johnson and Love are scheduled to be back in court for a criminal pretrial on March 3. Court records show a jury trial is scheduled for Johnson on April 24.

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