On May 23rd (LINK), The Stark County Political Report began a series designed to delve in to an alleged cover up of the shooting and killing of Shane Ryan at Great Clips/Massillon on Sunday, July 28, 2012.
Much of the material commented upon came from an investigative project of Tom Meyer, an investigative reporter for WKYC-TV, Channel 3, Cleveland, Ohio first reported on May 18th on the television station.
The focus of the blog of the 23rd was on former Stark County Deputy Sheriff Louis Darrow in his capacity of having been assigned Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier to investigate the matter in preparation of having the matter reviewed by a Stark County grand jury on the issued of whether or not the shooting was a "justified" homicide.
On May 26th (LINK), the SCPR turned the spotlight on Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero and how his office handled the matter of presenting the results of the Darrow (assisted by former Stark County Deputy Sheriff Ron Perdue) led investigation.
The Report's overall focus is whether or not local police/prosecutor officials have covered up or at the very least tamped down a version of an nearby to the incident witness (Massillon policeman Kervin Brown, a long time Massillon police officer) so as to induce the grand jury in the context of either not knowing or Brown's account being greatly minimized if not poo-pooed.
Brown's version suggests that the hostage was being escorted out of the room (if not completely out of the room) in which she was being held by Ryan when he was shot a second time which resulted in his death with an obvious implication that the shooting by SWAT officer of some 26 years Charles Saler may have been unjustified.
While others (e.g. legal counsel for Ryan's heirs and local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley) too focus on allegations of cover up aspects, they appear to be keying on and pushing for a legal finding by either the Ohio Attorney General or the United States Department of Justice that the Ryan killing was unjustified.
In the May 26th blog, copies of letters written by Conley to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and to the United States Attorney for the North District of Ohio appear in full form.
Readers of the SCPR know that The Report always tries to get "the other side" of any story for this blog.
And this particular blog focuses on "the other side" perspective per the following list:
- Between the day of the shooting (July 28, 2012) and the 30th, Investigators Darrow and Perdue interviewed the victim, eight Massillon police officers (at the Massillon Police Department) and four Canton police officers.
- A tape recording was made of all the interviews but the recorder was never turned off at any point beginning with Brown's "pre-interview" to his actual "on-the-record" interview and in segue to succeeding interviews or post-interview investigator discussions among the investigators.
- SCPR Note: The Report is told that material such as pre/post-interview investigators (critical in this matter because of cover up allegations) do not as a matter of common practice get recorded. But of course in this case the common practice was not followed.
- SCPR Note: "Pre-interviews," The Report understands, are designed via "small talk" and the like to put the interviewee at ease and to provide preparation to the interviewee of the kinds of questions likely to be asked and to build rapport with the interviewee.
- The Report's take from "the other side's perspective" is that Brown revealed in a "pre-interview" that he thought that the two shots fired at Ryan (the second and fatal one being to the temple) came after the victim was out of the hostage holding room at Great Clips.
- It was at this juncture that Brown was asked to leave the interview area but was to return to give his "official" interview.
- On Brown leaving the room, Darrow and Perdue discuss [remember the recorder is still running] the marked differences between Brown's account of Ryan shooting compared to every other witness including the victim.
- SCPR Note: Here is where language was used by Investigators Darrow and Perdue about not wanting to open up a Pandora's Box and they would "gloss over" that part [of Brown's testimony].
- SCPR Note: None of the audio of Brown's pre-interview session was transcribed nor were any of the pre-interviews of other witness transcribed as not transcribing such material is said to be standard operating procedure.
- In his "official" interview (The Report understands he was the eight person to be interviewed), Brown testimony (as recorded on the transcription) was: "Um, at that point they hit the door. You know, we followed them in, um, as soon as they got in they shield the, the, um victim from the suspect, passed her out, they grabbed her, I grabbed her by the arm, another officer grabbed her by the arm, we’re taking her out of the building. At that point, I heard two shots."
- Law enforcement officials contend that:
- Ryan heirs (a civil suit is underway in the U.S District Court, Northern Ohio; Stark Countian Sara Lioi [formerly a Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge] presiding) attorney William Walker (a former Massillon police officer) was:
- on June 12, 2015 provided with a copy of the Brown statement.
- in October, 2015 as a mandated matter provided with a copy of the statement.
- in January, 2016 provided with a third copy of the statement.
- Accordingly, law enforcement officials dispute that Attorney Walker should have been surprised about stumbling on the the recorded "pre-interview" version of the Brown statement.
- SCPR Note: The Report's take on Walker's surprise was not the Brown Statement but rather the "Pandora's Box" and "gloss over" language of the Investigators Darrow/Perdue discussion generally not recorded and if recorded not included in a transcription of the audio tape.
- SCPR Note: The Report understands that law enforcement officials provided a copy of the audio in December, 2015 which of course contained the Darrow/Perdue discussion which included "Pandora's Box" and "gloss over" language used by them in their verbal exchange.
- Bottom line, a Stark County political subdivision who wrote on condition of being unidentified the following statement:
- The issue of excessive force by police, especially deadly force, is a serious one. And it has been one that has, deservedly, attracted significant media attention and scrutiny. But this was not remotely a case of excessive force—and I would defy anyone to read the entire file and conclude otherwise. A thoughtful review of the entire case demonstrates that WKYC’s report regarding this case was result driven, intentionally incomplete, and misleading. Worse, it was exploitative and did a disservice to an otherwise important issue.
The basic position of law enforcement on the matter of the shooting and killing of Shane Ryan on Sunday, July 28, 2012.
This series will continue with additional material as this matter evolves.