There is nothing that undermines the authority of, the respect for and the cooperation with community policing than a law enforcement cover up.
Media police/law enforcement cover ups of police misconduct at the national level have been rampant in recent times.
And a SCPR Google® search shows that allegations of police misconduct exist across Ohio, to wit:
The alleged cover up pertains to operations of Stark's SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics unit [LINK] stand off with one Shane Ryan at Great Clips in Massillon on July 28, 2012 which resulted in Ryan's death at the hand of a SWAT officer. (LINK)
Though written transcripts of the shooting do not identify the shooting officer, the WKYC report identifies the shooter as being Sgt. Charles Saler, a 26 year veteran of the SWAT team.
The WKYC investigative report points to several Stark County current/former political subdivision law enforcement officials as possibly being involved the the construction of a cover up on how the SWAT/Ryan encounter went down.
If a cover up is shown to be true, Canton mayor Thomas M. Bernabei—elected as mayor as a political independent in November, 2015— could be faced with yet another crisis in getting his administration up and running.
Currently, Bernabei is working the city through a $5.1 million budget deficit and it could be that next year the city will have to make up another million or so in continuing deficits.
There is a civil suit on the docket in the United States District Court sitting in Akron (former Stark County judge Sara Lioi, the federal court judge presiding in the case) filed by the family of Shane Ryan said by one experienced Stark County attorney to be potentially worth millions.
One has to wonder whether or not financially depressed Canton and Massillon (currently in State of Ohio fiscal emergency on the request of current mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry) are in for additional stress on their financial condition should the cities be found liable to the Ryan family.
Like each and everyone of us, police and other government officials will and do make mistakes.
And it is a human tendency to cover up one's misdeeds.
But cover up operations once discovered only make matters worse.
Worse of all for law enforcement, it makes the day-in, day-out job of keeping the police all the more difficult.
Cops on the beat suffer the most in terms of daily law enforcement when police misconduct is covered up by higher ups.
The Stark County Political Report's interest in this matter focuses who among Stark County law enforcement officialdom (current and past) may have been involved if it turns out that on further investigation hopefully by Ohio entities such as the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and/or the Ohio attorney general's office shows that there was in deed an effort to cover up what really happened in the course of the SWAT/Ryan matter and the
The Report's approach is to take the names of officials (for purposes of opinion analysis) who have been reported to have or had a part in the alleged cover up or who appear to be facilitating—in the opinion of some—the perpetuation of a Ryan case cover up.
In 2013 (LINK), when then Stark County top Stark County Sheriff official Lou Darrow stepped up to challenge political power player George T. Maier as the successor to November, 2012 sheriff-elect Mike McDonald (who was unable to take office in January, 2013 due to an illness which in February cost him his life), the SCPR wall all-in on the belief that Darrow was all about policing without the politics that The Report thinks Maier is consummately infected with.
After the WKYC revelations of the Darrow-led investigation of the Ryan matter, it appears that in his own way (protecting fellow police), Darrow may be just as prone to being affected by political considerations as George T. Maier.
Lurking in the background in this entire matter is Maier himself who assigned Darrow and fellow sheriff's office deputy Ronald Perdue (a sergeant) to investigate police conduct in Ryan.
To The Report, the Stark County sheriff''s department heading up of the investigation had to be pregnant with "conflict-in-interest" from day that Maier agreed to take the matter on.
Maier as sheriff is a member of the SWAT operation and was as the SCPR understands it on the scene when Stark's SWAT dealt with the Ryan situation.
It is no surprise to the SCPR that Maier would have the arrogance to think his office could do an impartial investigation.
He should have at the time brought in the Ohio attorney general's office (OAG) and/or the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) to do the investigation of police conduct in the Ryan matter.
Even now, he should reopen the matter and ask the OAG/BCI to nail down a "what actually happened" version of events.
Sheriff Maier did Canton and Massillon (where he was a past safety director) no favors at all in taking on the investigation.
His appointee to head of the task, Lou Darrow, now heads up policing for Walsh University (August, 2014) located in North Canton having retired from the sheriff's department.
Up to earlier this month, Perdue was on the job at Walsh (LINK) as Darrow's top assistant.
However, he is currently on "paid leave" (LINK) because of a domestic violence charge he faces in the Canton Municipal Court with Judge Mary Falvey presiding. (Excerpt from CJIS)
Here is language from the transcript which has a number of Stark Countians' questioning the objectivity of the investigation. (From the WKYC report of May 18, 2016)
WKYC narrative in this color.
Speakers narrative in this color.
Using a shield, Saler tried to separate Ryan from his hostage.
(Saler) “Shane Ryan was yelling that he was going to both kill the hostage, pull the gas line and blow up the building,”
“The situation changed and it’s lethal.”
After entering the utility room and charging Ryan, Saler said he was not immediately able to separate the hostage.
He said Ryan was holding the woman with one hand and the lighter with the other.
He said he did not know if Ryan had other weapons besides the lighter. For the safety of the hostage, Saler said he had to fire the two shots.
“He had the lighter that I knew of and options that I didn’t know of,” Saler said during the deposition.
That’s not the account recalled by Massillon police Officer Kervin Brown, who was at the doorway when SWAT entered.
Sheriff’s Lt. Lou Darrow and Sgt. Ron Perdue were assigned to conduct the independent investigation for presentation to a grand jury. They recorded the interview with Brown.
“None of you guys, nobody is in any trouble, because what happened was a fine thing as far as from a legal standpoint,”
Darrow said to Brown before the interview.
“We’re building a package for grand jury to go in there and go look, Massillon had this call, they did everything they could to get the guy out.”
In the audio recording, Brown said he was stationed inside the Great Clips just feet away from where Ryan was holed up. He watched as SWAT passed him.
Seconds later, he recalled: “I kind of turned my back, grabbed (the hostage) and was getting her out, they were dealing with her and I heard two shots.”
Brown was asked where the hostage was when the shots were fired.
“She was just at the door, on her way out, when the shots went off, so, I don’t know if she saw any of that. We basically had her headed out the door. I don’t think she saw any of that. But she knew what happened.”
A moment later, Darrow and Perdue ask Brown to step out of the interview room. They do not stop the tape recording.
“Well, this is the first guy we talked to, that I talked to, that said that they shot him,” Perdue said in a whisper. “Saler told me that the suspect still had a hold of her, around the neck. [Brown] said she was out the door, so we have a conflict here.”
Darrow tells his partner they will wait to see what other witnesses say.
“What I’m asking,” Perdue adds, “is what kind of line of questioning do we want to do here because I don’t want to open up a Pandora’s box if we don’t have to.”
Darrow replies, “We’ll gloss over that part first.”
Brown returns and continues his interview. He then repeats his account that the female hostage was freed before Ryan is shot.
“We’re taking her out of the building. At that point, I heard two shots,” Brown said.