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Men to stand behind

Matt Westerhold • Apr 14, 2014 at 8:40 AM

The guy Huron County sheriff's deputies handcuffed and forced to the floor in his own apartment at 114-1/2 Benedict Ave. on March 25 is the only person providing any credible information about what happened.

Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard declared the operation at Collins' home a success and by-the-book a week after deputies stormed in. But Howard didn't conduct any sort of internal investigation to generate as much as a written statement, a document, a note or any report of his findings.

He just spake them to a local newspaper.

"It's clear my detectives acted in accordance with the law and executed the search warrant (appropriately)," Sheriff Howard told the Norwalk Reflector. "The deputies acted properly and there was no misconduct and it's as simple as that."

It came to him in a dream.

Read the search warrant

Sheriff's Capt. Ted Patrick spoke about the raid, too, providing the same sort of implausible reckoning when questions arose two days after it happened. Eight heavily armed deputies and officers from surrounding communities descended on John Collins' home as he watched TV. 

They cuffed him and pushed him face down to the floor after busting in through his door. They left him there on the floor while they rifled through his house, his drawers, his closet. Some of the officers recognized him, but they wouldn't listen to him when he repeatedly told them they had the wrong guy and the wrong address.

The deputies broke the screen of his Pad, and damaged other property, Collins said.

Patrick denied anything of the kind even happened inside Collins home. calling his complaint a "rumor."

"It's highly inaccurate. It's not factual," Patrick told the Reflector. "We stand behind what we did. I stand behind what our men and women did." 

Collins' ordeal didn't even make the final cut in the incident report Sheriff Howard provided on Tuesday.

"I responded to 114 Benedict Ave. I was advised there were two subjects there that had warrants. When I arrived I arrested Thomas and Patricia Papp... both subjects were transported to jail without incident," states the report, with a scant 117 words total in it, written by Deputy John Vogel.

Read the brief report


What happened to Collins inside his own home is, as if -- abracadabra -- it never even happened.

Sheriff Howard's magic assessment of the perfect execution of a search warrant at 114-1/2 Benedict Ave. in Norwalk is not a new tactic he invented to help convey accurate information to the public. The same sort of "look away" approach appears to be standard practice in Sandusky County.

Move along.

When Craig Burdine died Aug. 11, 2007, at the Sandusky County Jail shortly after being dragged inside by his arms and legs and already suffering severe injuries, a Fremont police detective and a sheriff's captain, now Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, both neglected to investigate how Burdine died.

Each was thinking the other was looking at that part of the death investigation, the actual death. How unfortunate.

Move along.

That excuse doesn't deserve a response; doesn't warrant a reply. Two experienced law enforcement officers both forgot to look into how Craig Burdine died when they were investigating his death while in police custody.

They forgot?

Nothing to see, move along.

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Because then Fremont police detective Sean O'Connell and Overmyer both forgot, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has been conducting the only real criminal investigation of Burdine's death to occur.

He's had the investigation for eight months. DeWine said March 13 the investigation would finish up in about two weeks. He's off schedule.

But it's likely determining what happened -- exactly what happened to cause Craig Burdine's death -- will have proved much easier for DeWine's team than the planning that's likely going into how to explain it.

His prosecutors already have provided two pretty lame excuses suggesting they did not want to seek indictments. The civil lawsuit was dismissed, they said, and the burden of proof is much higher for criminal offenses.

Move along.

There might be a problem with the statute of limitations, they told the Burdine family.

Nothing to see here.

The AG's office has come to the rescue in Sandusky County before, and will likely be there for local officials again.

So, if a problem does develop from what happened inside Collins' home, Sheriff Howard might be able to find some friends in Columbus.

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