Federal judge pushes for answers in Sandusky County shooting death

Federal Judge Jack Zouhary wants to understand why Sandusky County Sheriff's deputies used a flash bang device when they entered the Jones family's home to confront Bryan Jones.
Melissa Topey
Feb 2, 2012


Federal Judge Jack Zouhary wants to understand why Sandusky County Sheriff’s deputies used a flash bang device when they entered the Jones family’s home to confront Bryan Jones.

The judge also wants to know if there’s evidence that Jones, 26, was truly a threat when deputies got inside the home and fatally shot him.

Zouhary’s questions contrast sharply with federal magistrate James Knepp’s Dec. 7 decision to consider only the events that occurred in the few seconds once the deputies were inside the family’s living room.

Knepp recommended the dismissal of a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit the family filed against the Sandusky County Sheriff’s Office and the deputies who shot and killed Jones.

“This is what makes this case unusual. This is not a situation where police arrive at a scene and it is a split-second decision,” Zouhary said at a hearing in Toledo this week. “Here we have an hour and a half where he is making no threatening movement and there is no evidence he is aware officers are present in his home.”

Jones’ parents called deputies to the home on July 11, 2010, after he threatened to shoot his mother.

He’d been on a two-day drinking binge, but he was lying on a couch in the living room — a shotgun in his lap — when deputies arrived.

An autopsy later revealed he had cocaine in his system.


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Authorities were at the scene for more than an hour before Sheriff Kyle Overmyer decided to let a four-man tactical team enter the home, a detective’s report said.

Teresa Grigsby, the attorney representing Sandusky County and its deputies, argued that Jones was a threat and deputies were justified in fatally shooting him.

“He would have been an immediate threat the hour and a half they were at the scene?” Zouhary asked.

“Yes, he was an immediate threat,” Grigsby said. “He was a threat to anyone close to the home, and when he entered the home he had a gun on his lap and a finger on the trigger.”

Dennis Murray Sr., the attorney representing the Jones family, immediately countered that argument.

“He was passed out an hour and a half by himself,” Murray said. “He was a threat to no one after all deputies had surrounded the home and were peering into the windows for an hour and a half.”

The four deputies quietly entered the home and moved to within 6 feet of Jones before throwing a flash bang in front of him. Deputies Mario and Jose Calvillo, who are brothers, fired the fatal shots.

Murray said choosing to use the flash bang device was a bad tactical maneuver that resulted in Bryan being startled out of a stupor.

Grigsby said the use of the flash bang should not be considered as part of the discussions of the department’s use of force. The flash bang, she said, is a valid diversionary device that is not a use of force.

Zouhary asked her if, under the circumstances, it was not a poor decision to use the device.

“Might it be more dangerous if he is asleep, in all indications in an alcohol stupor, and startling him with it?” Zouhary asked.

After two hours of rapid-fire questioning, Zouhary ended the hearing.

He plans to make a decision about whether to accept Knepp’s recommendation to dismiss the case, or to rule for the Jones family that the sheriff’s office acted unreasonably and violated Jones’ civil rights.

If he issues the latter ruling, the case would go before a jury to decide a monetary award for the family.
Either party could appeal the decision.

After the hearing, the Jones family said they felt Zouhary took the opportunity to listen to them.

“What he heard today was more to what happened that night,” said Kim Jones, Bryan’s mother.


yea right

like everyone knows..since 9/11 cops have permission to shoot and KILL first..then cover up what they did..

and most cops today were victims of bullying..so now they take their aggression out on us the pirvate citizen..


Darwin's choice

Within 6 feet of jones?????????? Sounds like murder to me................


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From what's presented here, sounds like there should be a thorough and COMPLETE investigation. And that means not discounting ANY of what happened during ANY of the timeframe. Anything less is dishonest at best and, in this case, perhaps inexcusably fatal.


Here is an idea. When you let your unstable drunk drug addict kid around your firearms and he threatens to kill you dont call the police.  These cops didnt hunt this guy down they were called there they handled the situation and now the world is rid of another worthless drain on society. You can all whine about over zealous police and what not. But you dont break the law you will have no interaction with the law and live your life.

yea right

@bigdad remember karma is a b***h...


Yes I believe this young man found out karma is a b***h and finaly caught up with him and his actions. Remember this is a man who fired a gun into a house with a child in it. You want to rehab these criminals and baby them then you take them into your house and you pay for it. As far as I'm concerned they can be disposed of like the trash they are.


I feel like using the flash bang device was probably the wrong move IF that was the inital attempt to contact Mr.Jones and confront the situation.  Do I think the officers were justified in shooting him when he raised up off the couch in a drug and alcohol induced state and pointed a gun in their direction?...Yes.  If I were one of those officers I can't say I would not have shot a man standing before me in that condition.  I do think that more of an attempt should have been made to contact Mr Jones from outside the home and talk him out of the situation (if that was never done as this article leads me to believe). Prehaps whomever made the decisiion to use the flash bang device should be held as the accoutable party - was that Overmyer or one of the other officers?

I think it is rediculous for Murray to say that he was not a threat, because drugs, alcohol, and guns are not a good mix.  Maybe the family should have called their lawyer to the scene to handle the situation, rather than calling the police...since he was "not a threat".



You write, "But you dont break the law you will have no interaction with the law and live your life." Try telling that to the innocent woman who had the FBI chainsaw its way into her home the other and hold her down on the floor while her 3 year-old wailed! Oopsie...

No one here (or on previous stories, as I recall) has suggested even ONCE that Jones was an innocent. It's just that some of us (me included) believe that the police overreacted in a MAJOR way, and that a man is dead who didn't have to be. Last time I checked, doing drugs wasn't capital crime, and even if it was, I'm pretty sure that law enforcement authorities aren't entitled or empowered to act as judge/jury/executioner.


His own parents called the police because they were afraid of him. He got exactly what he deserved.







to echo what Sam Adams says and what many of you are being (willfully, it seems) ignorant of.. this is NOT about Bryan Jones.. so get that through your thick, extremist skulls..

YES, Bryan Jones should be in prison, and likely due to his previous record he WOULD BE in prison right now if this had not happened (for multiple counts of violation of parole, at the very least).. but there are a certain manner of extremist that would rather give police officers an obscene amount of power (judge, jury, and executioner), as if they are divine by nature (rather than just a human being like the rest of us who are able to make errors in judgment).. WAKE UP!

as i said last time, there are MANY excellent law enforcement officers (men and women in uniform generally, i should add) and YOU do them an OBSCENE disservice and insult, by excusing this incident.. they do not excuse it and neither should you.. KAY, THANX, BYE!.. /slams door