Two police officers on paid leave for their role in the fatal shooting of a Dayton man whose killing is being called “unjustified” will remain inactive for at least a few more weeks and may return before a state investigation is completed.
Moraine Police Chief Craig Richardson indicated the length of the absences of John Howard and Jerry Knight may end before the completion of the external probe into the Oct. 20 death of 23-year-old Jamarco McShann unless the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation finds “some indication of possible wrongdoing.”
BCI’s review of the case is expected to last into December, when a spokesman said tests from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office should be complete in Moraine’s first fatal officer-involved shooting.
An internal investigation into whether the officers followed policy and procedures will be done by Moraine after BCI ends its review, Richardson stated in an email.
“It will be at least a few more weeks before they return to duty,” the police chief stated. “There is no standard timeline for returning to duty but we wouldn’t necessarily be compelled to wait until the BCI report is completed unless there is some indication of possible wrongdoing.
“And some of the timeline also depends on the officers’ well-being,” Richardson added. “We wouldn’t want them back on the street if they were not ready.”
An attorney for the family of McShann, meanwhile, said his death should have been avoided.
The fatal shooting was “unjustified” and is symptomatic of law enforcement practices in the state, said Andrew M. Stroth, managing partner of the Action Injury Law Group headquartered in Chicago.
“There’s a pattern and practice of the unjustified use of lethal and excessive force by officers within the state of Ohio, especially as it relates to African-American males,” he said.
Howard and Knight fired 10 rounds combined after McShann pointed a gun in their direction after they confronted him in a parked car before dawn at Valleyview Apartments off Pinnacle Road, 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 the weapon, Richardson said. A spokesman for the McShann family, Jerome McCorry,questioned why Moraine police are not equipped with cruiser or body cameras.
The weapon was later identified as a semiautomatic pistol “with a high-capacity magazine” that included a bullet in the chamber, Richardson said. 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 coroner’s office.
The investigation by BCI, which has stepped in at the request of the Moraine Police Division, is expected to take about 10 weeks, said spokeswoman Jill Del Greco.
The state bureau will interview witnesses, collect evidence and have its lab test those items. Investigators will likely review the officers’ personnel files and any criminal history of those involved, Del Greco said.
Howard, 47, is a 19-year veteran with Moraine. Knight, 23, joined the city in March 2015. Both have consistently earned strong semi-annual performance reviews, according to a recent review by this news organization of more than 200 pages in the officers’ files.
McShann was released from the Lebanon Correctional Institution Aug. 2, 2016, after a three-year sentence for three cases, the most recent one for having weapons under disability.
Neither of two self-authored motions for judicial release were granted by Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Adkins. In one, filed Nov. 24, 2015, McShann said he “did not think like a productive member of society” and asked for mental health assistance, according to the records.
In a May 2015 motion for release, McShann wrote that he and eight siblings were raised by his mother and he was working toward his GED despite learning disabilities.
BCI will “find the facts of what occurred,” Del Greco said. “We don’t make any kind of charging decisions or recommendations on whether or not charges should be filed. That’s all up to the prosecutors.”