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Published: Monday, 10/20/2003

Suspect slain in struggle with officer

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A man fleeing a North Toledo gas station early yesterday after a robbery was shot to death during a struggle with an undercover Toledo police detective who saw the crime.

Police said Myron Campbell, 36, attacked the undercover officer - a department veteran of about nine years whom officials refused to identify - with a knife before trying to wrestle away his gun.

At least five shots were fired during the scuffle, which took place about 1:30 a.m. along Manhattan Boulevard near the BP gas station at 3532 Stickney Ave. Five bullets hit Campbell - two in the abdomen, two in the chest, and one in the side, according to Dr. Diane Barnett, a Lucas County deputy coroner.

Even after he was shot, Campbell had to be shocked twice with a TASER by Michelle Roush, another police officer responding to the scene, before he was subdued, police Capt. Mike Murphy said. A TASER is a hand-held device police have begun using that sends a five-second, 50,000-volt electric shock to the victim.

Campbell, for whom police have several Toledo addresses, was released from the Lima Correctional Institution in 2001 after serving seven years for attempted robbery. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The undercover detective was treated at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center for cuts and other injuries to his head, one of which may have been caused by a glancing blow from a bullet, Captain Murphy said.

Deputy Chief Linda Mason, who is filling in for police Chief Mike Navarre while he is on vacation in Mississippi, said it would be dangerous to name the detective.

“We don't reveal the names of [undercover] officers because it would compromise his safety as well as his effectiveness in working with us,” she said.

She said he is assigned to the department's vice squad. The detective witnessed the crime while he was on duty, but it was not related to one of his cases, she said.

“He had gone inside to purchase something for himself,” she said.

While inside the store with Campbell, he had an uneasy feeling about things, she said.

Police said the detective then watched the gas station from his car across the street. He witnessed a confrontation between Campbell and the store clerk in which Campbell brandished a weapon and left moments later with the cash drawer containing an undetermined amount of money.

As the suspect fled east on Manhattan, the detective followed in his car and then exited the unmarked vehicle and identified himself as a police officer.

Campbell, who weighed more than 260 pounds, struck the detective with a knife, pushing him into the police cruiser where the two struggled.

At one point, Campbell gained control of the Sig Sauer pistol and struck the detective on the head repeatedly. A number of shots were fired - police weren't sure yesterday exactly how many - as the men wrestled for control of the weapon, both inside and outside the cruiser, Captain Murphy said.

Eventually, another police crew arrived and shocked Campbell with a TASER, he said.

Deputy Chief Mason said she is not aware of any prior disciplinary action against the detective or of involvement in any other shootings. The incident is under investigation and will be referred to the police firearms review board.

Captain Murphy said it appears clear that the officer, who will be on paid administrative leave, acted in self-defense. “From all indications, everything appears to be justified,” he said.

He said there are no indications whether the robbery may be related to a recent string of robberies in Point Place.

The shooting took place about a week after an incident in which a Toledo police officer shot a man in the buttocks after the suspect failed to stop, crashed a car, and pointed a gun at the officer.

Gregg Harris, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, was just thankful that the undercover detective made it through yesterday's events.

“[He's] real lucky to be alive today,” he said. “He's going to be OK, but he's pretty banged up and shook up.”



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