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BCI called it 'suicide by cop'

Matt Westerhold • Oct 8, 2013 at 9:16 AM

A reader asked some questions in the comment section under the last "Between the Lines" blog entry, "AG team shows up lame." I've copied his comment below, with my reply. 


Why do you find it necessary to keep talking about the Jones case. That individual decided to drink, decided to scare his parents to the point that they felt compelled to call the authorities. He also chose to pick up a firearm. All of his actions led to his demise. Try portraying him for what he was, a dangerous drunk with a weapon. His parents didn't know if the gun was loaded so how do you expect LE to know that. My question to you would be this, if he had woke and started firing indiscriminately and killed an innocent person would you continue to criticize LE for not doing anything? You can't continue to criticize LE for making life and death decisions based on what you THINK should have been done.

matt westerhold

Actually, Jones was a sleeping man on a couch, Jmschmidt. The deputies stood just feet away from him, but rather than simply remove the unloaded weapon from his lap, they stepped back, used a flash bang grenade and shot him dead when he was jerked awake by the sound and fury of the explosion. What other outcome could there have been given those command decisions, and do you really think that was good police work?

If you, or anyone else in the LE community, could explain how that might have been a well-executed plan, please feel free to offer that explanation. The explanation BCI provided was that Jones might have "committed suicide by cop," but they didn't explain how a sleeping man could do that. Try to do better than that unreasonable and implausible conclusion if you're going to offer an explanation; try to be more professional than BCI was in its investigation and conclusions.

As far as your question, I've reported news stories about professional police departments in standoff situations that lasted more than 30 hours, on several occasions, without anyone being killed. In this instance, nobody was in danger, nobody was being held against their will, nobody other than the deputies were in the home and they felt they had to use a grenade to awaken him. If they felt a grenade was necessary to awaken him, why didn't they simply remove the gun from his lap?

You also asked why it's relative. Unprofessional police practices that result in the death of anyone should be carefully reviewed and corrective action should be taken. That's why the death of Craig Burdine also is important to remember and recall. Your family could be the next to experience that unprofessional and deadly police behavior.

In the Jones killing, the Sandusky County sheriff and BCI chose to ignore the operational missteps, pat each other on the back, and make shallow, non-responsive statements similar to yours. Additionally, the Sandusky County sheriff's office has a pattern of deadly, unprofessional behavior and a fatal partnership with BCI. 

The deputies killed Jones 90 minutes after arriving at the home.  If you're in law enforcement, and you think that was a well-executed operation, please get more professional training.

Thanks for your comment. 

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