One of two Moraine police officers on leave after the fatal shooting of a Dayton man has been a firearms instructor and a “leader” who has mentored the second officer involved in Jamarco McShann’s death.
Veteran officer John Howard III has “a very thorough knowledge of the department’s policies and procedures” while Jerry Knight Jr. has impressed supervisors since his March 2015 hiring, earning the Moraine Police Division’s 2016 rookie of the year award, records show.
Both Howard, 47, and Knight, 23, have consistently earned strong semi-annual performance reviews, supported by letters of recognition from supervisors and favorable comments from the public, according to an analysis of more than 200 pages in the officers’ files obtained through a public information request by this news organization.
Howard is “one of the leaders of the shift,” and the 19-year veteran “goes out of his way to ensure that officer Knight is learning and taking the required steps to be successful,” according to a recent performance evaluation.
Howard and Knight are on paid administrative leave pending separate state and local investigations into the Oct. 20 early morning fatal shooting of the 23-year-old McShann, Moraine’s first officer-involved killing.
The two officers fired 10 rounds combined after they confronted McShann in a parked car shortly after 5:15 a.m. at Valleyview Apartments on Pinnacle Road, Police Chief Craig Richardson has said.
The officers, responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle, fired on the suspect after he failed to heed commands to drop his gun, later identified as a loaded, semiautomatic pistol “with a high-capacity magazine,” Richardson added.
A 911 caller told dispatchers he heard someone shout: “Put the gun down! Put the gun down!”
McShann died from “multiple” gunshot wounds, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.
The shooting was the first time Howard drew his gun since January, city records show. He has been a firearms instructor since seeking the post in 2012, citing in a letter at that time “my marksmanship proficiency and the ability to teach and instruct as demonstrated by years of service.
“I am proficient with several specific firearms and a number of different weapons systems (handgun/rifle/sub gun/shotgun/less lethal),” he stated in a letter.
His experience “exposed me to hundreds of hours of live fire in a wide array of training environments…….static line fire, firing on the move, firing under induced stress, and countless hours in shoot house environment.”
Howard joined the MPD in January 1998 and a year later received a performance review of “not acceptable.” Since then, he has earned favorable reviews, with the vast majority of work receiving either “proficient” or “superior/exceptional” ratings, records show.
Howard “does an excellent job in all facets of his duties,” according performance reviews completed in the past year.
Howard “is well versed in policies of the department and the city, and he is able to follow the intent of the general orders and regulations,” according to a 2012 job evaluation.
“When he deviates it is because of unusual circumstances and is done with sound judgment and foresight,” that review states.
Howard “makes a great effort to get to know the citizens of the city, and he can speak without conflict to more of the populace than the everyday officer.”
A Kettering resident ticketed by Howard in 2013 later called the department and called him “a keeper” while Moraine Sgt. Jon Spencer said Knight’s “decision making and call handling skills mimic that of senior officers.”
Knight, a Wayne High School graduate, has received acceptable, proficient or superior/exceptional ratings on all three performance evaluations, records show.
He has received progressively higher marks with each evaluation, with his last rating this past summer showing “superior/exceptional” scores in eight of nine categories, according to his file.
Knight “has far exceeded the expectations of an officer of his age and tenure,” according to letter nominating him for rookie of the year, which is given to an officer with two years of service or fewer.
“Jerry is the youngest officer in the department, but by his work it is difficult to tell,” the letter states. “Jerry is mature and consistently makes good decisions and rarely needs guidance from his supervisors in routine or complex matters.”
It’s not yet clear how long Howard and Knight will be on paid leave, according to Richardson.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is overseeing the criminal probe into the shooting at Moraine’s request. An internal investigation focusing on policies and procedures is being handled by Moraine.