Elmwood Place Officer Nicholas Arn acted in self-defense when he shot at fugitive Rodney Arnez Barnes during an Oct. 20 traffic stop, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.
Speaking Wednesday in a virtual news briefing, Deters said no charges would be filed against Arn and he would be free to return to work by the end of the day.
"Quite frankly, (Chief Eric Bartlett) ought to have a parade for him," Deters said. "What he did was quite brave."
According to Deters, Barnes had run a stop sign and was speeding at the time Arn pulled him over on the afternoon of Oct. 20.
Deters said that Barnes, still wanted in connection to a 2018 bank robbery, told Arn he would not go back to jail and shot at him. One bullet missed Arn by inches, striking the hood of his police vehicle instead.
Arn returned fire. Barnes was wounded and transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he died.
However, Deters said Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco was unable to determine whether the bullet that fatally wounded Barnes came from the police officer's gun or his own. The shell was never recovered from the scene.
"We may never know if he killed himself or if he was killed by the officer's gun," Deters said. "We don't know the answer to that. What's important is, it doesn't matter, because the use of force here by this officer was entirely justified. As a matter of fact, he deserves a medal for what he did. Innocent lives were at stake, including his own."
Hamilton County court records indicate that Barnes, 48, was arrested following an attempted First National Bank robbery in 2018. He would be convicted in absentia the following July. A handwritten note from Aug. 3, 2019, described Barnes as having “bolted” from the psychiatric hospital where he was being held at the time.
He remained at large until the date of his death.