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Published: Saturday, 12/23/2006

Sheriff exonerated in shooting review

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Wasylyshyn Wasylyshyn
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BOWLING GREEN - Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn was justified in firing a shot during a standoff with a suicidal man last month, and he would have been justified in shooting the suspect, a review of the incident concluded.

"Based on our investigation, we have determined that Sheriff Wasylyshyn could have used deadly force against the suspect and would have been justified in doing so," Maj. Sam Crish of the Allen County Sheriff's Office wrote in his report on the matter.

"The suspect had a loaded and cocked handgun in his hand and would not put down the weapon when ordered to do so on several occasions. Also, the suspect had made numerous statements that he was going to force officers to shoot and kill him."

Major Crish and Detective James Hyitt of the Van Wert County Sheriff's Office were brought in by the internal affairs committee of the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association at the request of Wood County Chief Deputy Eric Reynolds to review the shooting.

Based upon that review, Chief Deputy Reynolds yesterday sent a letter to his boss saying the investigation had been completed and that no policy or procedure was violated when the sheriff tried to shoot a gun out of the hand of Philip Harris inside the man's rural Bowling Green garage Nov. 28.

Deputies had been called to Mr. Harris' Georgetown Drive home on a report that he was intoxicated, suicidal, and armed. After deputies tried for nearly 2 1/2 hours to get Mr. Harris to put down his gun, the sheriff attempted to shoot the weapon out of his hand but missed.

Mr. Harris was taken into custody a short time later when the county's special response team came into the garage and, using a device that produces a loud explosion and a blinding flash of light as well as bean-bag projectiles, was able to arrest Mr. Harris.

Sheriff Wasylyshyn said yesterday that he was glad to see the matter concluded.

"The important thing is everyone left the scene safely, and our suspect was completely unharmed at the scene," he said.

As part of their review of the case, Major Crish and Detective Hyitt interviewed the sheriff and five deputies who were involved in the incident.

"This situation was very intense," Major Crish concluded in his report. "The deputies and the sheriff exhibited significant restraint when they did not use deadly force and continued their efforts to encourage the suspect to surrender."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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