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BCI gets it done

Matt Westerhold • May 12, 2013 at 5:59 AM

When the state’s “elite” criminal investigation agency botches a probe as badly as the Ohio Bureau of Investigation (BCI) did in the killing of 26-year-old Bryan Jones, residents should know already, then, beyond any reasonable doubt, the agency is incompetent to its task.

Whoa. That’s harsh.

Not harsh enough, many would say, when you consider that Jones was asleep on a couch at his parents’ home when two Sandusky County deputies awoke him using a “flash bang” grenade and then shot him five times, blowing off his arm using high-velocity ammunition designed to inflict a maximum degree of injury.

The deputies went into the home and killed Jones about 20 minutes after arriving there, responding to a call from Jones’ parents. It’s not clear what the family told the dispatcher about the circumstances in the moments before they fled from the home.

But in short order, their son was dead.

Asleep, with a shotgun in his lap, chances are, Jones never saw it coming.  The deputies went into the home and stood less than 30 feet from him as he slept. Jolted awake, perhaps, the deputies said Jones pointed the rifle at them and they fired; 19 rounds.

The BCI probe found nothing too concerning, however, about the killing of Jones. At least that’s what’s been said. The agency tied it up in a nice bow and concluded it was all good, before some questions were even asked.  And those that were asked, were brushed aside. Or so we’re told.

But Sandusky County sheriff’s Captain Jose Consolo began an internal investigation the night Jones was shot and killed, and it is likely the best documentation that exists. It was ordered up by sheriff Kyle Overmyer, but rushed to conclusion to accommodate the BCI, and a special prosecutor. 

And Consolo had concerns about the BCI report from the start, according to sworn testimony in the Jones family’s lawsuit against Sandusky County officials and the deputies involved in killing their son.

“That was my first meeting with (BCI investigator) Brokamp. … I attempted to explain to him what I had learned … and I was attempting to explain to Mr. Brokamp some concerns …

Question: And he brushed them off?

Answer: Yes

Question: He didn’t want to hear it?

Answer: Didn’t want to hear it.

An investigator who doesn’t want to hear about concerns in an investigation of an extremely concerning incident is not likely searching for truth, but rather, something else.

The Register has requested a copy of the BCI report under Ohio’s public records law, but it has not yet been released The Ohio Attorney General’s office has been reluctant in the past to release reports, especially when an investigation surrounds a public or an elected official. We know that here in Erie County, for sure.

And it appears there would be ample reason for the BCI commanders to want to

suppress this report, and other reports, perhaps.

There is a whole series of documents that have been released to the Register under the open records statutes, however, that do shed light on BCI’s darkness.

Those documents are available here.

Former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine was elected Ohio AG last year and he campaigned

as a man intent on rooting out corruption and the slovenly performance of the BCI crime labs, with its backlogs of DNA evidence testing and various other inadequacies.

The Brokamp/BCI investigation of Jones’ death preceded DeWine’s election, but it would be a big boost if DeWine would turn his attention to this matter. A review of the deadly circumstances and critical mistakes —from sending a deputy with a violent history into the home to a BCI investigation that sought to keep questions about what occurred to the minimum – is warranted.

There’s a problem here. How could it be more obvious?

BCI should set the standard for law enforcement in Ohio, and unfortunately, in many ways it does. Even more unfortunately, that standard appears to be unacceptable.

If the BCI commanders are satisfied with the outcome of the Brokamp BCI investigation, then release the report. If they are embarrassed by it, still release the report.

Maybe it’s time, simply, to do the right thing.

Click here for an index to related articles. 

The above is an column published in the Aug. 28 edition of the Register. The opinions of the Register Editoral Board, local columnists and readers are published six days a week on the Register's editorial page.

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