Agency expects Portage shooting investigation to take hundreds of hours

It will likely take hundreds of man-hours to complete a state investigation into the shooting death involving the Portage County Sheriff’s Office Saturday morning in Windham Township.

Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crime Scene and Special Investigations Units are investigating the fatal shooting which apparently involved a dispute between neighbors on Saturday at a residence in the 8000 block of Werger Road in Windham Township. The sheriff’s office asked the BCI to investigate.

Death by gunshot:One dead in Windham Township. shooting in Portage County after police arrive to settle dispute

It was the third shooting since 2021 involving a Portage County MP.

A woman died in Saturday’s incident, according to social media posts. As of Monday afternoon, the sheriff’s office had not issued an update on the incident beyond an initial press release.

500 typical hours for investigations

According to Steve Irwin, spokesman for Ohio Attorney General David Yost, a BCI investigation typically takes about 500 man-hours. The BCI is part of the Office of the Attorney General.

“It really depends on the scope or magnitude of the incident,” Irwin said.

Garrettsville police and deputies were told as they drove to the scene around 9:30 a.m. that one of those involved in the dispute had a gun. “Once officers arrived at the scene and began investigating, shots were fired,” the sheriff’s office said in a short press release. The version, posted on social mediadid not specify how many shots were fired or who fired them.

An unnamed woman was later pronounced dead at the Portage University Hospitals Medical Center in Ravenna. No one else was reported injured and few details were released.

The BCI Crime Scene Unit processed physical evidence at the scene, while the Special Investigations Unit conducted interviews with witnesses, neighbors and law enforcement officers involved at the scene. places, Irwin said.

BCI will send the file to the county attorney

“BCI gathers all the facts about what happened and then that gets sent back to the county attorney,” Irwin said.

Investigations can sometimes take longer, depending on the processing of medical toxicology, digital evidence and other evidence, Irwin said.

After BCI presents its findings, a county prosecutor has the option to decline to press charges, present the evidence to a grand jury, or appoint a special prosecutor who would also take the case to a grand jury, Irwin said. .

Two other shootings involving Portage County deputy since 2001

In the two previous shootings involving the Portage County Sheriff’s Office since 2021, the Portage County District Attorney’s Office cleared the deputies involved of wrongdoing. BCI investigated both incidents.

The Record-Courier reported that in the first incident, on May 12, 2021, deputies went to the home of a man in the canton of Ravenna to arrest him under outstanding warrants. The man was shot when he allegedly threw himself on deputies with a knife. He has been charged and his case is still pending in the Portage County Court of Common Pleas.

Then on July 4, a gunman from the canton of Ravenna was shot dead after sheriff’s staff responded to a domestic violence call at the man’s home in Bennington Pike. The BCI investigation determined that the man had never fired his gun, which was loaded. Witnesses reported that he pointed the gun at the deputies before they fired.

Portage County could buy body cameras for MPs

Portage Sheriff’s Deputies do not wear body cameras. County commissioners said Monday they were looking to buy them.

Portage County Commissioner Vicki Kline said the three commissioners would be “all for” body cameras for the sheriff’s office and believes the cameras would protect the county from lawsuits.

“If it’s all filmed, it’s not a ‘he said, she said’ thing,” Kline said. “If everything is filmed, there is protection.”

Kline said she was worried about opting to buy dash cams instead of body cams because dashcams would only capture what’s happening in front of a cruiser and “that’s not where things go.” happen”.

She said society in general was becoming more violent and worried that people might carry a gun without registering it.

Last year, the sheriff’s office discussed with commissioners the idea of ​​purchasing body cameras.

At the time, the bureau was interested in pursuing a portion of the $10 million in grants set aside in the state’s biennial budget to purchase body cameras for officers.

Portage County Commissioner Tony Badalamenti said the last time he spoke to Sheriff Bruce Zuchowski on Monday that the sheriff was consulting with other law enforcement agencies about whether dash cameras or body cameras would be best. There hasn’t been any discussion about the cameras lately, he said.

With reports from the Record-Courier. Beacon Journal reporter Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or [email protected] Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.

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