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Published: Friday, 10/5/2012

Facts needed on shooting

A fatal police shooting of an unarmed suspect, under any circumstances, can raise lingering questions and fears, and undermine police-community relations. The Toledo Police Department would best serve the city, and the officers who risk their lives to protect it, by handling last week's fatal shooting of a 19-year-old Toledo man with an open, thorough, and prompt investigation.

Darrell James Parnell was killed with one shot to the chest early Sept. 28, during what police say was a violent struggle with Officer Benjamin Cousino, 24, who joined the force last November. Mr. Parnell was not carrying a weapon, though police say he reached for Officer Cousino's 40-caliber gun several times during the struggle, and used Officer Cousino's baton to beat him on the head. Mr. Parnell, police say, also punched Officer Cousino in the face and bit his arm.

Mr. Parnell was wanted on a warrant issued in July for a probation violation related to an attempted felonious assault last year. Before he was shot, Mr. Parnell was apparently breaking into a vehicle in the 1300 block of North Michigan Street.

The department placed Officer Cousino, who was treated at a hospital and released, on paid administrative leave. His partner, Officer Jesuse Cordero, 36, who did not see the shooting but heard the gunshot, was also placed on leave.

Police Chief Derrick Diggs said last week that Officer Cousino was "definitely in fear for his safety." That's obvious, but it doesn't answer the question of whether deadly force was justified.

A criminal investigation will be forwarded to a Lucas County grand jury. An administrative investigation report will go to the police department's Firearms Review Board.

Chief Diggs, who often operates with little transparency, should make the report public immediately, and answer any questions about the department's policy on lethal force.

Police departments can't solve cases unless people are willing to give them information. An open and honest investigation of last week's fatal shooting will help the Toledo Police Department maintain the community's trust and help.

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