FOCUS ON PROSECUTOR JOHN FERRERO
HIS APPARENT REFUSAL TO RECONVENE A GRAND JURY
On Tuesday The Stark County Political Report became the only Stark County news/opinion outlet to delve into WKYC—Channel 3—reported allegations that a police conduct cover up is underway in Stark County. (LINK to Tuesday's blog)
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.
As far as the SCPR is concerned the core of the story is a investigative conversation between then assigned by Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier sheriff department employees Captain Lou Darrow and Sergeant Ron Perdue of various Canton (SWAT team members) and Massillon Police Department members.
In particular, this series will focus on this part of the investigative interrogation, to wit:
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.
Ferrero had previously presented the matter to a Stark County grand jury which returned a "justified" homicide ruling.
Here is what Ferrero is reported to have said with respect to the new demands:
Again, this is an extract from the WKYC report:
In an interview this month, Stark County Prosecutor John D. Ferrero said he was unaware of Brown’s statements or the statements of the detectives.
He later spoke to an assistant prosecutor who presented the case to the grand jury.
The assistant downplayed Brown’s recollection. Ferrero said he believes Brown was nervous about the shooting and mistaken about the timeline.
Nonetheless, Brown’s statement were not told to a grand jury, which declined to charge Saler.
“They said they were going to gloss over it and they did,” Walker said.
Walker said he intends to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or the U.S. Department of Justice and request the investigation be reopened.
First, Conley's letter to the United States District Attorney for Northern Ohio.
Second, Conley's letter to Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine.
Conley has been an "on again, off again" nemesis of Prosecutor Ferrero going back years and in particular a previous Stark County event which Conley at the time termed as being "Zeiglergate."
However, Conley did stand in Ferrero's corner when he challenged along with Lou Darrow and others George T. Maier's qualification to be Stark County sheriff (January 2013 through November, 2014).
The SCPR thinks this story could turn out to be a much bigger event than is presently envisioned by local media, political and policing authorities.
And readers can depend on The Stark County Political Report to report and analyze the entire story from beginning to end.
Next up in ensuing days, Part 3!