Defendant in death of Bluffton police officer sentenced in Medina County

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Aug. 9—MEDINA — One of three men who were inside the vehicle that struck and killed a Bluffton police officer during a high-speed chase earlier this year was sentenced Monday to two years in prison by a Medina County judge.

Dante Tate, 19, of Euclid, was sentenced on charges of failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, a third-degree felony, and receiving stolen property, a felony of the fourth degree. The charges were indirectly related to the March 31 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 was one of three occupants of the speeding car that struck Francis, along with Emin Johnson and Zachary Love. The trio abandoned that car after the incident and Tate stole a 2010 Toyota Prius from a residence outside of 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.

All three face charges in Hancock County associated with Francis' death.

Tate was indicted for complicity to receive stolen property, improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle, grand theft of a motor vehicle and one count of receiving stolen property (a 9mm Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol).

Johnson, 20, 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.

Love, 21, of Columbus, 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.