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Jones family sues Sandusky County Sheriff's office for $20M

Sarah Weber • May 12, 2013 at 5:54 AM

"Immediately after the detonation of the flash bang devises, Bryan yelled out 'Why?' as (Jose and Mario Calvillo) fired shots into his head and body. At least four bullets penetrated Bryan. It is believed that death was not immediate. The (Cavillos) were so wild with delusions and anger that bullets were found in the walls and woodwork of the residence as well as in the body of Bryan."

— From Jones family lawsuit against Sandusky County Sheriff's personnel

 The family of Bryan Jones is asking for $20 million in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Sandusky County Sheriff's Department.

Jones, 26, was shot to death by sheriff's deputies on July 11 in his Ballville Township home.

Jones' father, Tracy Jones, called 911 that day to report his son was drunk and had threatened to kill his mother and himself. When deputies arrived, Jones was passed out in the house.

Deputies assembled a tactical response team, led by brothers Jose and Mario Calvillo, and fired flash-bang grenades into the living room to disorient Jones. They entered the house and almost immediately encountered Jones, who deputies said raised his shotgun at them.

According to coroner's records, Jones was shot four times and died of the gunshot wounds.

It's not clear how many total shots were fired by deputies, but both Calvillos fired their weapons.

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The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, seeks damages for the wrongful death of Jones and for the emotional distress caused to Jones' parents by witnessing the events leading up to and including the shooting.

Tracy Jones pleaded for a non-violent end to the incident and told deputies there was no rush to get Jones out of the home, according to the suit.

Deputies arrived at the scene at 9:50 p.m.

"Bryan could be seen through the front widow, passed out on his own living room couch," the suit states. "For no justifiable reason, the deputy defendants decided to enter the residence at approximately 11:30 p.m. There had been no communication with Bryan. It was and is believed that Bryan did not know that the deputy defendants were then outside his residence."

The suit asks for $10 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. Dennis E. Murray Sr. and Donna J. Evans of Murray and Murray law firm in Sandusky are representing the Jones family.

Teresa Grigsby, an attorney with Spengler Nathanson law firm in Toledo, is representing Sandusky County in the suit. She did not return phone calls on Friday, so it's not clear if the county's insurance policy will cover the whole cost of the suit if the county is found liable.

The suit names Sandusky County, the Sandusky County Board of Commissioners, Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, Deputy Jose Calvillo and Deputy Mario Calvillo.

"The Board and County failed to produce sufficient funds for the (Sandusky County Sheriff's Department), forcing the sheriff to cut expenditures and to continue to use employees who were incompetent to perform the duties required of them on July 11, 2010," the suit states.

It faults the deputies for excessive use of force and Overmyer for failing to adequately hire, screen, supervise, train or discipline his deputies.

The sheriff suspended Jose Calvillo for 10 days in January and demoted him from road patrol to corrections for directly defying orders to avoid contact with his ex-girlfriend. The woman had a restraining order against him.

Because the late Sheriff David Gangwer reprimanded Jose Calvillo for failing to obey similar orders, the deputy's January demerit included a last-chance agreement.

He was allowed to continue to carry a firearm and stay on the tactical response team because of budgetary restrictions, according to the suit.

Mario Calvillo joined the Sandusky County Sheriff's Department in 2003 after he was fired from the Fremont Police Department. In his first few weeks on the job in Fremont, Mario Calvillo was convicted of an off-duty drunk driving offense, resulting in his termination.

Since the incident, both deputies have been transferred to corrections and are not permitted to carry a firearm until the case is closed.

A special prosecutor, Tim Braun, intends to present the case to a Sandusky County grand jury. He has said anytime there is a police shooting it's prudent to have an grand jury review the case for possible criminal charges.

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