BCI called it 'suicide by cop'

Matt Westerhold
Oct 8, 2013

A reader asked some questions in the comment section under the last "Between the Lines" blog entry, "AG team shows up lame." I've copied his comment below, with my reply. 

Jmschmidt812

Why do you find it necessary to keep talking about the Jones case. That individual decided to drink, decided to scare his parents to the point that they felt compelled to call the authorities. He also chose to pick up a firearm. All of his actions led to his demise. Try portraying him for what he was, a dangerous drunk with a weapon. His parents didn't know if the gun was loaded so how do you expect LE to know that. My question to you would be this, if he had woke and started firing indiscriminately and killed an innocent person would you continue to criticize LE for not doing anything? You can't continue to criticize LE for making life and death decisions based on what you THINK should have been done.

matt westerhold

Actually, Jones was a sleeping man on a couch, Jmschmidt. The deputies stood just feet away from him, but rather than simply remove the unloaded weapon from his lap, they stepped back, used a flash bang grenade and shot him dead when he was jerked awake by the sound and fury of the explosion. What other outcome could there have been given those command decisions, and do you really think that was good police work?

If you, or anyone else in the LE community, could explain how that might have been a well-executed plan, please feel free to offer that explanation. The explanation BCI provided was that Jones might have "committed suicide by cop," but they didn't explain how a sleeping man could do that. Try to do better than that unreasonable and implausible conclusion if you're going to offer an explanation; try to be more professional than BCI was in its investigation and conclusions.

As far as your question, I've reported news stories about professional police departments in standoff situations that lasted more than 30 hours, on several occasions, without anyone being killed. In this instance, nobody was in danger, nobody was being held against their will, nobody other than the deputies were in the home and they felt they had to use a grenade to awaken him. If they felt a grenade was necessary to awaken him, why didn't they simply remove the gun from his lap?

You also asked why it's relative. Unprofessional police practices that result in the death of anyone should be carefully reviewed and corrective action should be taken. That's why the death of Craig Burdine also is important to remember and recall. Your family could be the next to experience that unprofessional and deadly police behavior.

In the Jones killing, the Sandusky County sheriff and BCI chose to ignore the operational missteps, pat each other on the back, and make shallow, non-responsive statements similar to yours. Additionally, the Sandusky County sheriff's office has a pattern of deadly, unprofessional behavior and a fatal partnership with BCI. 

The deputies killed Jones 90 minutes after arriving at the home.  If you're in law enforcement, and you think that was a well-executed operation, please get more professional training.

Thanks for your comment. 

 

Comments

Darwin's choice

Sorry, I still call both of the listed deaths as "murder by cops"!

deertracker

That's exactly what it was!

Jmschmidt812

I'm well aware that jones was sleeping. My question to you was if they done nothing and he started firing indiscriminately and killed an innocent person would you continue to criticize them for doing nothing? Btw I am no law enforcement officer nor do I intend to be one.

Matt Westerhold's picture
Matt Westerhold

There were multiple operational choices that could have been made between doing "nothing" and using a grenade to awaken a sleeping man. But if what you describe were to have occurred, and law enforcement  made obvious operational mistakes to cause the outcome you describe in a similar fashion to the terrible missteps that did happen in the killing of Bryan Jones, then yes, they likely would be criticized for those mistakes.

Darwin's choice

There where only police within a quarter mile of the house...
no one else anywhere near the house...
he could have fired that shotgun a thousand times and not been close to anyone...

skydog44870

If I’m not mistaken, didn’t the AG himself admit on between the lines that his own agent’s conclusion of “suicide by cop” was ridiculous. The AG had and still has it within his power to re-open the case to investigate it thoroughly but instead he chose the cowardly way out by stating it didn’t happen on his watch. And why on earth did no one challenge the coroner’s ruling. If they would have chosen to do the right thing then maybe the Limberios family and or others wouldn’t be suffering today.

2Timothy1-7

Maybe people were afraid to question the coroner's ruling in view of the fact that an attorney who challenged a Lucas County ruling on behalf of a client back in 2001-2002 was charged with a crime for it.

There are many suspect coroner rulings from Lucas County and all of them involved alleged cover ups of law enforcement misconduct or involvement in corrupt activity.

Truth or Dare

One of their favorite sayings when it comes to the mishandling of situations by LE and government officials involved...."Let sleeping dogs lye".

2Timothy1-7

LOL.. Agreed, but I think you mean lie. Lye is a caustic agent which would dissolve a dog. Whereas lie means to lay down or in the case of LE in these cases to make a false statement.

Truth or Dare

Thank you for the spelling correction. I should've known better. The use of lye on that young man might of been a tad bit more humane treatment? NOT!

CGiannini

During a news conference with the results of Cleveland PD November 2012 killing of two individuals, AG DeWine stated that there was a "systemic failure" in the Cleveland Police Department that led to the deaths.

Our AG did not go far enough in his statement - the systemic failure is with the state's training and education of all police officers. The basic police officer academy is now 577 hours as of January 2013. It was 587 hours for the past few years. But it hasn't changed much; 35 years ago it was 400 hours.

Consider this: To obtain a license to cut hair, the State of Ohio requires the student to complete 1800 hours of training.

Many other developed countries require their police to complete many more hours (years) of training and education. For instance, United Kingdom is over 18 months, Germany requires almost seven years and Costa Rica over 2000 hours of training.

Now, some will say that the state offers more classes for law enforcement training after graduating from the academy. While there is an extensive list of classes and some may be offered on line, there is NO requirement that a LEO completes any further training during his career. The only requirement is to pass a firearms proficiency test, yearly. Yet, Ohio requires the person who cuts your hair to complete 15 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their license. While the majority of police-citizen contacts do not involve the use of deadly force, why are police not required to be more proficient and tested annually in the use of legal updates, handling the mentally ill, self-defense tactics or physical fitness?

If you are to review all of the police departments throughout Ohio, you will note that most are small or medium sized agencies. Almost all of the LE agencies in Ohio are operating under small budgets. One of the first cost saving measures is to not pay for or send officers for training. Why should they, there is no state requirement.

So, in cases of use of force and deadly force, there will always be questions about what is "right or wrong". The US Supreme Court has upheld that the decision to use force by the officer must be judged on the facts at the time the officer made his decision and based on his training.

Government agencies who employ police, deputies, state troopers can always defend the actions of the LEO's based on the training because there is so little training provided. Not until the US Department of Justice steps in and starts a review of a law enforcement agency's practices, policies, education, training and supervision does any real shake up occur in an agency. Case in point: Cleveland Police Department. The last time they came under USDOJ review, the city stepped up its training and updated its policies to avert the DOJ from running their department. Now, again after the November incident, CPD has ramped up its training while being reviewed by the DOJ.

It is time for the state of Ohio to take the lead and swiftly double or even triple the amount of training and education for police officers. The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 provided a mandate that all police officers in the US would have an Associates degree by 1980 and a Bachelor's degree by 1985. The government provided millions of dollars to fund the program. However, most states did not follow the mandate. In the past few US administrations, the government has provided funding to agencies to hire police for up to three years, but not the funding to enhance the education of our current police.

The Ohio Legislature can easily enact a law that requires an increase in the training hours and that all law enforcement officers (and state troopers) to possess a college degree before being eligible to serve as a police officer.

I have been a certified Ohio LE instructor since 1986 and have an Associates degree in Law Enforcement and a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management. I currently teach Criminal Justice at Cuyahoga Community College.

2Timothy1-7

Thank you for your comments based upon years of educating law enforcement officers. It has always baffled me on how little education and training we require of people to whom we entrust the most power.

In my opinion at a minimum a law enforcement officer should have an associates degree and a bachelors degree for any command position. Earning a degree helps eliminate individuals who seek these careers for the power trip without requisite emotional stability and intellectual judgment.

In addition to a degree, LEO's should be licensed like any other profession and that license should be subject to a Board that investigates any discipline issues. Part of that licensing process should include field experience much like medical and teaching professionals must obtain practical experience before being licensed. An independent licensing board would not as prone to protecting LEO misconduct and provide citizens with a neutral adjudicatory body for investigating and reviewing complaints.

A person who earns a bachelor's degree will have spent about 5,000 hours in the class room, reading and studying for exams. That process properly seasons a person for making the decisions that LEOs must make. The investment of time and money to obtain the degree and the license should result in better quality and professional LEOs. For what society invests in LE, society should expect at least the same level of training and experience of any other profession such as teaching and nursing.

dont blame me

@CGiannini

You failed to enlighten us as too how much LE enforcement experience you actually have. You can’t teach someone common sense or integrity in a classroom. By the way, many of the officers I know that have college degrees are some of the dumbest and/or most dishonest on the force. I’ll take someone with common sense and integrity over a college graduate any day.

Julie R.

Your comment reminds me of something somebody told me once. He told me the smartest person he ever met in his life ~ somebody that had a 4.0 all through college and never even studied ~ was also the dumbest person he ever met in his life for the simple reason he was totally lacking in common sense.

CGiannini

So far, a total of 38 years in various assignments in the Criminal Justice field. 17 as a city police officer and narcotics investigator rising to the rank of Lt. On the SWAT team for ten of those years, four of them as co-commander. Later, deputy project manager/training manager for NASA security police with Federal Arrest Authority (3 1/2 years). 18 years of providing private investigation and security services. The rest of my CV is available if you care to email me.

I did not discuss or comment on hiring practices. But, why put limitations on your qualities of a police candidate? Shouldn't an agency hire the best person possible? Just to name a few qualities - someone that is honest, dedicated, with common sense, outgoing, mature, in good physical condition with an aptitude for arriving at smart conclusions, AND a college degree. The applicant must be vetted thoroughly and a determination must be made if they are the proper "fit" for the type of police work that will be encountered in that community. Then there must be proper supervision and measured oversight.

Truth or Dare

Nice loopholes for LE, especially within the Cleveland area, the AG and coming from the Supreme Court, eh? What I'm hearing are excuses, including how the Cleveland situation was handled! Saw that coming the evening it happened. They sure did shut the Chief up real quick, didn't they?! You telling me that if they would've had 5,000 hrs. of training as opposed to only 500 they would've reacted a different way? Riiiiiiight! There are those within LE and government that do what they do because of the power of their positions, because they can and will get away with it! By the way CGiannini, you familiar with a book by Radley Balko: "Rise of the Warrior Cop; The militarization of America's Police Forces"? It's gotten positive, honest feedback from those within the profession for decades.

CGiannini

@Truth or Dare. Yes, great book. Someday , our communities may be served by two types of police forces: One which will serve the public and another to address armed encounters; but that is a completely different topic.

deertracker

....and they wonder why some run from the cops. SMH!

gramafun

suicide by cop is defined by this according to my friends who are cops: "when a man or woman is armed and ready to fire and refuses to put down their weapon. They are WARNED to put that weapon down, but refuse to do so. They know the police intend to shoot and are will not survive. They then shoot FIRST into the police surrounding them and the police shoot back." That is suicide by cop. The person is AWAKE and ALERT. They know what is coming. Not asleep and snoring. So How can what happened to this man be considered suicide by cop????? If he was asleep, he wasn't ready to shoot any more than he was aware of the presence of the police. How stupid is this?????

Onemanforce

I am not going to agree nor disagree with anyone's opinion on this subject. I will say, however, that it is very easy to judge anyone's actions while under extreme duress when one was not even there. The actions that led to the demise of this man are an absolute tragedy. The actions of both, SCSO deputies and his own (which led to SCSO to respond there to begin with). My thought in the matter is: it doesn't matter how much you educate a person, how many degrees the officer has obtained, how many books on the subject you devour on a daily basis, you do not know how one will react in a high stress crisis. We can all sit behind out keyboards and living room-drive this to death (no pun intended). The fact remains, a man died that day and it is an incredible loss for his surviving relatives and loved ones. Must we and the staff of The Register continue to bring this up? Must the family of this man continue to suffer by reliving that fateful night? Let us have some compassion for the grieving and put this to rest once and for all. I guarantee you there isn't a day goes by that the involved Deputies don't think about that day and have to live with the images of what happened. I guarantee you all the involved Deputies wish things would have gone differently. Lest learn from this experience and lest continue to strive to become better LEOs and the rest of us better people. Just my 2 cents.

Darwin's choice

@CGiannini...Great post! I believe you're exactly right on more training needed! I find it amazing the haircutting analogy! No one wants a bad haircut! As far as the previous post's concerning common sense, with the suggested amount of training raised to the level of a Bachelor Degree, then the required ride-along/probationary period, the new officer's should be much farther ahead than where we are now. Some of the "cowboys" in the area are just that, on an ego trip. There are many great Leo's here, but it only takes one to throw all the others into the "bad" light.

Centauri

How about drug testing cops?

Some use anabolic steroids which can make a person very aggressive.

In Ohio, I have yet to read about a cop being tested for drugs after a shooting or police brutality.

http://www.policechiefmagazine.o...
"Although physical fitness is an essential part of policing, as described in the previous article, some officers go too far to ensure their strength—endangering not only themselves but also the public they are sworn to defend."

"Over the past few decades, several stories have surfaced regarding law enforcement personnel involved with anabolic steroids. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently led Operation Raw Deal, considered the largest international steroid investigation to date. The operation discovered several links to current or former law enforcement officers. This was predicted almost 20 years ago by an article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin that stated, “Anabolic steroid abuse by police officers is a serious problem that merits greater awareness by departments across the country.”1 In addition, a story on the television program 60 Minutes in 1989 titled “Beefing up the Force” featured three police officers who admitted steroid use and claimed that their resulting aggression got them in serious trouble."

Onemanforce

They do get tested. LEOs go through random testing just like anyone else.

Centauri

"They do get tested. LEOs go through random testing just like anyone else."

SHOW YOUR PROOF.

Please provide some internet links that police in Ohio "go through random testing just like anyone else" and that includes the county prosecutors.

Are the Ohio county prosecutors also the top law enforcement officers in each Ohio county?

Please provide internet links that show police were given a drug test after a shooting or police brutality charges.

Julie R.

Like.

eriemom

Increased educational mandates would create a more educated police force. Educational requirements could include work with respected mentors within the law enforcement community.

Clearly these increased requirements would increase professionalism. That being said, none of it will ever happen. A more professional law enforcement labor pool would also need to be paid much better than our communities will ever agree to. We get what we are willing to pay for.

2Timothy1-7

How do entry level police wages compare to entry level nurses or teachers' aides with two year associates degrees? How do police command salaries compare to nurses with BSN degrees (RNs)? I think police salaries with less education and training are probably pretty comparable to professions such as teaching and nursing that require far more education and training. Thus, society is likely already paying wages that require a degree and practical training in other professions.

Nemesis

More education and training are nice, but they won't solve the real problem, which is the ongoing militarization of law enforcement. In this country, the military is not supposed to be used for law enforcement, but these days, the cops are indistinguishable from the military. The job of the military is to kill people and break things. When you equip and train police like soldiers, they're going to think like soldiers, and act like soldiers at the first opportunity.

The authority of law enforcement in a free society is supposed to rest on broad consensus among the populace that the laws they enforce are reasonable and beneficial. Reliance of law enforcement on superior firepower and overwhelming force is the domain of third world tin pot dictatorships.