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Prosecutor: Fairfield officer-involved shooting will be sent to grand jury

Posted at 7:09 PM, Mar 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-08 21:49:32-04

FAIRFIELD — The fatal shooting Friday of a man by Fairfield police is an example of the importance of officers being equipped with body cameras, officials said.

Officers were dispatched to 9 South Timber Hollow Drive at 11:49 a.m. for the domestic dispute issue. The initial call was for “shots fired.”

A woman contacted the department Friday morning asking officers to be “on stand by,” said Fairfield police spokesman Doug Day.

When the man arrived, there was a confrontation between him and the police officers in the parking lot. Day said during that confrontation the man produced a firearm. The man was shot dead, but police aren’t confirming if it was by one or multiple officers.

The three responding officers have been placed on administrative leave, which is department policy. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the officer-involved shooting. The officers have not been identified.

Fairfield Police Steve Maynard told the Journal-News that “the officers, although shaken by the traumatic incident, are doing well.”

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said he was contacted by the BCI investigator Friday.

When the investigation is completed, the findings will be presented to a Butler County grand jury for review, which is Gmoser’s policy in all officer-involved and self-defense cases.

“It will go to grand jury, as is my policy,” Gmoser said. “I have very few policies, but that is one of them. It is absolute. The fact that it is going doesn’t mean there is something to it. It just means that all go no matter how obvious the justification is.”

The Journal-News has requested the body camera video worn by the officers. Gmoser said it, along with the remainder of the investigation material, will be released “probably about the time the information is presented to grand jury.”

Gmoser said body cams have become a valuable tool in all investigations, and his is a fan of the devices that continue to evolve with technology.

“Without commenting one way or another about whether it was justified or not justified because the investigation is not complete, this case represents one of the reasons that I favor body cams, and I wish that every agency had them,” Gmoser said. “Every chief that doesn’t have them, it is their choice. Maybe it is economics, maybe it is their own decision on how they like to run their department.

“However, the moving force of the 21st Century is to have body cams, and they are even becoming more sophisticated with new technology. It is not a thing of the future, it is a thing of the present, in my opinion, and this case will be an example of the importance of this type of technology.”

Gmoser said the camera worn by officers on calls gives “situational awareness” of an incident.

“And that is valuable in any investigation, because you have distance markers, you have time markers to put things into real-time perspective when you replay history, and let’s face it, that is what prosecutors and defense attorneys do,” Gmoser said.

Maynard echoed Gmoser about the importance of officers being equipped with body cameras.

“The videos will be made available as soon as the investigation is completed,” Maynard said. “We will be fully transparent about what took place, but (now) must protect the investigation.”

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