Sandusky County has pattern of public abuse

Matt Westerhold
May 6, 2013

History is the teacher. Click the links.

In 2007, inmate Craig Burdine died at the Sandusky County jail after being repeatedly electroshocked by guards, deputies and Fremont police officers using Tasers. 

In early 2011, a 26-year-old sleeping man, Bryan Jones, was killed by Sandusky County deputies who used high-velocity ammunition in high-capacity weapons they weren't even authorized to carry that tore off his arm when they killed him. BCI, the state crime lab, suggested he committed suicide by cop but didn't explain how a sleeping man could do that. 

In early 2012, a schizophrenic inmate at the Sandusky County jail denied her medications was allegedly sexually exploited for hours by jackboot guards who gratified themselves taking advantage of her and were later paid $5,000 each in agreements drawn up by the county prosecutor's office that included secrecy provisions apparently designed to protect others.

Currently, Sandusky County judges Barabara Ansted and John Dewey, court administrator Brock Kimmet, county prosecutor Tom Stierwalt, coroner John Wukie, sheriff Kyle Overmyer, detective Sean O'Connell, special prosecutor and defense counsel for the county Dean Henry and BCI all have seemingly contributed to a credibility gap that exists with regard to the county's multiple investigations of the killing of 19-year-old Jacob Limberios on March 2, 2012. 

History is the teacher and given the pattern — of just the known abuses — public officials from Sandusky County likely should sharpen their rhetoric because another family will be victimized soon by this incompetence and the refusal to acknowledge or address it. 

(linklinklinklink)

Today, tomorrow, next week or next month, it will happen this year. 

Another family will call out.  

Another family's legitimate concerns will be ignored, for as long as it takes county officials to craft a legal position that suggests plausibility where none exists, or for as long as it takes and with whatever it takes to wear down that family and quiet their protests.

Every public office — from BCI to the AG's office, the Ohio Supreme Court to the U.S. Attorney for Ohio, the FBI, the Justice Department, and every public agency in between — that looks away from the problem is part of the problem.

Comments

Krissy3

The register has heard copies of their interviews with investigators, I'm sure. They are on the justiceforjake page. I don't know why the register hasn't talked to them. Maybe because their story keeps changing and one has refused to talk since the day after the shooting.
With that said, there were crimes committed that night: all of the witnesses admitted to shooting a gun after drinking among other things. Yet no arrests have been made so no, apparently they don't HAVE to be charged.
My point was, again, had they ruled it as an accident from the beginning like the witnesses said it was the family probably would've never filed a lawsuit and Sandusky County would have gone on about their ways...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o...

voice of fremont

The way everybody is too quick to attack people who disagree with them on this forum, rush to judgement, and spread hate and lies is really frustrating. This is doing nothing to help Jake or his family.

mhs parent

Yet your pretty quick to attack the Sandusky Register, yet they have done nothing but help Jake's Family by giving them a voice that could no longer be ignored.

tzu4u

Thank you Mr. Westerhold. Law enforcement must respect the power they hold over others, and not exploit or abuse those in their care.
Police officers have a very hard job, and I respect them so much. but when those in authority abuse those in their care, they must be punished, and the public must know what they have done.

Firsttimeblogger

Hi everyone. I am a first time blogger and I have been reading up on this case. I agree with both sides. I understand where you are coming from Voice. But I just want to state this side note. I would like to thank Dr. Wukie for the amazing job he did on me. I went into his emergency room and he not only saved my life but also kept me from being disfigure for the rest of my life. I understand you are under a lot of heat right now but you really made a difference in my life. Thank you. I just figure everyone deserves to get some credit even in there lowest hour.

Now The Rest of...

Lesson learned feed the Register information and receive preferred press treatment, dare not to jump at their commands be prepared to be drugged through the mud on never ending rehashed articles with little or no informational value to the public.. Fair and balanced press coverage, I think not......

luvblues2

We thought that you said that you would quit posting. You haven't. ;)

vcreed123

Very ballsy article and very well done, someone needs to hold these people accountable keep up the good work!!!

Jmschmidt812

I was reading a news clip from 08 about mr. Westerhold allowing a news paper article that slandered prosecutor Baxter to be printed, knowing the statements involved were false and unfounded. So I guess you're right, if you look away from the problem you're part of the problem.

smart_girl900

THANK YOU, Matt for reporting the truth. Too much corruption for so many years! The sad thing about it is that many people in Sandusky County, especially Fremont, are apathetic or in denial or are afraid of the consequences of calling out these corrupt officials.

nobodyfromnowhere

While I know this is an opinion piece and Mr. Westerhold has a right to his own misguided opinion lets look at the outcome of all these cases that have him in such a tizzy.

1:Craig Burdine- Autopsy preformed by Dr. Cynthia Beisser of the Lucas County Coroners Office. She found his death to be accidental, caused by Acute Drug intoxication during an episode of excited delirium. Her findings not Dr. Wukie's. Burdine family files lawsuit in Federal District Court. Lawsuit is summarily dismissed. Family appeals to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Appeals Court affirms the District Courts dismissal of the lawsuit concluding "Therefore because the officers in this case acted reasonably under the Fourth Amendment, they are entitled to statutory immunity under Ohio law because they did not act outside the scope of their employment, with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner." Lets see 1 professional Deputy Coroner/ pathologist and 2 Federal Courts say Burdine's death was not cause by Law Enforcement Officers. Oh after I conducted a search on Burdine's name I noticed that the Register did not report on the Appeals Court decision or the original dismissal by the District Court. Why is that? Doesn't support your opinion? Here is a link to make the Appeals court decision easy to find. http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opin...

2: Bryan Jones- The shooting is investigated by BCI&I not the SCSO. Their investigation finds the shooting justified. The case is presented to a Grand Jury, made up of citizens, they "No Bill" the officers involved with the shooting. Family files suit which is now awaiting a decision by the 6th District Court of Appeals. Again outside investigation and Grand Jury decision exonerating the officers. Again officers exonerated but some how you think this is wrong?

3: Female inmate- Again case presented to The Grand Jury who issued a "No Bill". In this article you state that she was denied her medication. The Grand Jury found that there were numerous attempts to obtain her medication but that they were unsuccessful. (Pg3 #3 of the PDf) I'm sure just an innocent factual mistake on your part, like all the others, right? You also describe the guards as "Jackboot". I doubt the were wearing a heavy military boot made of glossy black leather extending above the knee and worn especially during the 17th and 18th centuries. Seems a little cumbersome in a jail setting, but does make for a nice, but inaccurate image. The Grand Jury not only found that there was not probable cause of a violation of law but also stated that they felt the officers should not have even been fired. Such a finding puts the county at a disadvantage in a wrongful termination suit. By negotiating the settlement the save easily 10 times that amount in lawyer's fees alone, and keeps them out of county employment. Some how you of the government fiscal responsibility crusades find this wrong?

4: Jacob Limberios- This case is still in progress and is awaiting review by independent persons. However I fail to see how BCI&I has contributed to a credibility gap in any way shape or form. Unless I missed something they have not been involved in any way shape or form.

In 3 of the four cases you cited there has been at least 1 if not more independent investigations and independent judicial reviews. NONE found even the probable cause that there was a violation of law. Yet you accuse everybody from "BCI to the AG's office, the Ohio Supreme Court to the U.S. Attorney for Ohio, the FBI, the Justice Department, and every public agency in between" as being part of the problem. Please explain what the Federal government has to do with any of this? Or for that matter BCI&I or the Ohio Attorney Generals office?

It seems your now obvious bias against law enforcement in general and Sandusky County law enforcement in particular has made you at best indifferent or at worst purposely ignorant of the conclusions of all the independent reviews of the cases you cite above.

It seems that Sandusky County may have less of a pattern of abuse and you and the Register more a pattern of bias and contempt against law enforcement in general and Sandusky County law enforcement in particular. Unfortunately it seems that this contempt has carried over from opinion pieces, such as this one, and into the supposed fact based news reporting of the Register and that definitely contributes to very big credibility gap for the Register and all of it's reporters and editors, and that is too bad.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Nobody. Yes, there does seem to be a pattern there, starting from "excited dilerium."  

Here's an excerpt about "excited delirium" from a National Public Radio report. You can read the entire report and listen to the broadcast by clicking the link. 

"The phenomenon can be witnessed in a grainy video shot in 2003 by a dashboard camera in a Cincinnati police car. In it, a patrol car pulls up quickly to the parking lot of a White Castle in Cincinnati. A 350-pound man is seen stumbling around, yelling.

The man is 41-year-old Nathaniel Jones, a father of two who worked in a group home. He argues with two officers. He seems confused; he can't keep his balance. The officers close in. The officers order Jones to get down but they can't seem to catch him. He throws his body at one of the officers. Out come the nightsticks.

They strike him about 40 times. Jones is on the ground when more officers arrive with nightsticks. Jones calls out for his mother. That's the last thing he says.

Jones stops moving. He dies a few minutes later.

The coroner found that Jones did not die from excessive police force but from a number of causes — such as heart failure, obesity, drug use and asphyxiation. He later told reporters that Jones' death could have been the result of something called excited delirium."

Jmschmidt812

I'm in no way condoning these officers behavior. But I'd be interested in hearing how you would have handled that situation.

luvblues2

Coroners are not Medical Examiners. They don't get to make the call of death over the phone.

I can't believe that some don't get this with all the info that is shown just on THIS website.

1
a : emitting or having a limited or insufficient amount of light a dim lamp a dim hallway
b : dull, lusterless dim colors
c : lacking pronounced, clear-cut, or vigorous quality or character a dim echo of the past
2
a : seen indistinctly a dim outline
b : perceived by the senses or mind indistinctly or weakly : faint had only a dim notion of what was going on
c : having little prospect of favorable result or outcome a dim future
d : characterized by an unfavorable, skeptical, or pessimistic attitude —usually used in the phrase take a dim view of
3
: not perceiving clearly and distinctly dim eyes

Are you dim?

sash

Mr. Westerhold- While I agree with the substance of your blog, I do take issue with your writing. I understand that your editorials and blogs are not held to the same standards as a news article because they are opinion, however, I believe respect for your readers should be inviolate. I think the majority of your readers are intelligent enough to read your arguments and form opinions without inflammatory or sensationalistic words and phrases. Tore off his arm when they killed him? Jackboot guards? Sadly, the first thing I look for in a story about Mr. Jones now is the "tore off his arm" phrase. It's there, every time. Isn't the fact that he was killed, and the circustances of the shooting enough to support your arguments without this gratuitous detail over and over again? Why don't you add these details to other stories involving accidents or shootings? Maybe vivid descriptions of exit wounds and blood splatter? And Jackboot guards? Should we expect a cartoon tomorrow with swastikas and Hitler?
I had an old writing professor years ago who loved his red pen and often returned papers with words and phrases circled, and either "cheat" or "trick" written above them. He saw these as either a writing "cheat" for the writer either too lazy or ineloquent to clearly express his thoughts, or a cheap "trick" used to emotionally manipulate the reader.
I understand your passion for these stories, but you may well be doing them a disservice. I don't like being manipulated, but more importantly, it makes me take a step back and question everything the writer or speaker is telling me. Do you believe that the facts of the stories are so weak that they need that added sensationalism and manipulation to "sell" your point of view to the reader? Did you consider that inflammatory language and sensationalism undermine your arguments? We're not stupid. Give us the story and the facts and most of us will reach the conclusions you want without being manipulated. The facts are enough. Have a little faith, in both your stories and your readers.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for the thoughtful comment Sash.

Sensationalism requires that information in a story is not accurate. It is accurate to report, and re-report, that deputies "tore off his arm" in the process of killing him. While the sheriff's office found nothing concerning about its operation the day Jones was killed they were required to ignore that fact in order to reach that conclusion.

It's certainly newsworthy that a deputy armed himself with high-velocity ammunition in a weapon he was not authorized to carry and caused that kind of injury killing a sleeping man standing just feet away from him just 90 minutes after arriving at the home in a situation in which it appeared nobody was in imminent danger. 

County officials, BCI and a special prosecutor all seem to agree that none of this presented a problem, but they never explained how it wasn't problematic. They might prefer that media companies just stick with the "official" story, but that would require leaving out specific and important details and suggest a sleeping can commit suicide by cop in that sort of scenario. 

A newspaper's job is to ask the hard questions, not serve as a mouthpiece for inaccurate and incomplete information from public agencies that does not address the issues raised. An editor whose job includes writing opinions for the editorial page and the blog site should be able to cite important details regardless of whether public officials acknowledge or address the questions raised by them. 

And if someone should raise the charge of "sensationalism" it should be accompanied by information that supports that suggestion, in my opinion. 

I hope that makes some sense. 

John Harville

Okay Matt... Sensationalism.
The story in the Jones matter is NOT the arm which, excuse me, was collateral damage.
The story is that officers were called by the family because they were concerned he might harm himself.
The story is that the man was asleep on the couch with a gun on his lap when officers through a 'bomb' in the house which startled him - as I'm sure it would you - causing him to jump up and point his gun, at which point the two officers opened fire 'in self-defense'. (Is this the story to which you refer?)

And yeah, Matt, "jackboot" emphasized in blue IS SENSATIONAL. Or was that in some official report or court record we missed?

Matt Westerhold

The "emphasized in blue" is because that is a link to a story on that topic.

And, no, it's not sensational. It's an opinion. 

sash

We obviously have a different understanding of sensationalism. I never meant to imply that you were inaccurate or untruthful in your statements regarding Mr. Jones. My understanding from what I was taught was that "sensationalism" wasn't based on the accuracy or truthfullness of the words or statement, but on their intent. Are the words or story meant to convey information or to elicit an emotional response? To create controversy or provoke a response? Perhaps he was wrong or my perception was wrong, but to state that "sensationalism" requires inaccuracy seems a very narrow definition. Would you label any of the media coverage of the Jodi Arias trial as "sensationalism"? There were certainly media outlets which reported the facts of the story, but there were many more whose coverage gleefully reported every sexual act, explicit texts or showed graphic photos. Their headlines or the "tease" before their nightly coverage were intended to entice, provoke and titillate the readers and viewers. Did any of them cross the line into "sensationalism?" By your definition, the answer would be no because it was accurate. On this we will have to disagree, because as a reader and viewer I feel the story was repeatedly sensationalized, despite their accuracy.
I never suggested you or the paper should be anyone's "mouthpiece", nor did I suggest that you quit asking questions. The stories are important. The underlying problems in the county are important. But more importantly, the people you are writing about and their families are important. It may be emotionally satisfying to label the guards as "Jackboots", but what was accomplished? Some readers will nod in agreement, but how many others dismissed everthing you wrote because of that inflammatory label? The SR hates LE, hates Sandusky County, hates authority, is full of ranters and ravers...and the message is lost. As I said earlier, I agree with the substance of your story so I encourage you to keep writing and asking questions. I simply hope the message isn't lost because of the method of delivery.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks again, sash. Interesting observations with some food for thought. 

Julie R.

My opinion on those Sandusky County guards and the schizophrenic woman wasn't as nice as "jackboot." It was more like --- what a bunch of genuine low-life filthy and disgusting pigs.

MsQuarderbitty

You got that right, I agree with you!

John Harville

Why are we not doing something similar to this report about Erie County/Perkins/Sandusky law enforcement. I haven't heard of any SC officers filming themselves urinating off a pier. We've seen almost nothing about the SPD officers who were fired but must be reinstated. There's never been a full story on why Officer Dunn did not wait for backup before confronting a known violent man on a BICYCLE. We heard very little about the SPD(?) officer who became violent relating to a memorial service for a fallen officer. And what about followups to the Border Patrol comments about immigrant workers. Or more on the story about the woman who died in Sandusky jail because no one checked the medication with her....

John Harville

To avoid a 'charge' of sensationalism, it's often better even in an editorial to let other voices tell the story through quotations.
Ask Jones' mother about her son's injuries - and the pain that the family called law enforcement to help calm down the man who could be seen sleeping in the room.
Quote the Limberios father or others about how the initial investigation was handled - ignoring the attorney.
Quote documents on court decisions - which you did in the case of the naked woman in the Sandusky County Jail AFTER being challenged.
Quote the sheriff. Kyle generally is open when the law allows.
A final note: the great majority of law enforcement in Sandusky County is competent, courteous, and concerned. The same cannot be said, IMHO, of the legal system throughout the county - a reason judges should not be allowed to run as Republican or Democrat or any other party. Perhaps Ohio should approach the court system as do other states... "shall Judge Q Public be retained?" If not, a higher court appoints.

luvblues2

Very rare... A well intended (by both sides), good debate. A great read. (the past several comments, that is) :)

Krissy3

Lets keep in mind that while these officers may not have done anything "illegal" they certainly did not do what was right. Part of being an officer, a doctor, and a lawyer is using discretion and making decisions and THAT is why they need to be ethical!

MsQuarderbitty

I'd like to see these Sandusky County Sheriff haters become deputies and show 'em how the job should be done. I wonder, if you needed to use the services of a deputy, can you call another counties sheriff for help? Move out of Sandusky County if you don't like the agency. Put up or shut up!!

Kottage Kat

They should have done blood alcohol on all.
Had an autopsy been done the nite Jake died a tox screen and BA would have been done
They really dropped the ball and I can only pray that someone can get some
JUSTICE 4 JAKE

John Harville

A 17-year-old man was revived by a juvenile corrections officer and a Sandusky County officer when he stopped breathing in his cell.

Yes, Kyle, I'm back.

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