A SWAT team’s raid of a West Toledo home turned tragic early Thursday morning when gunfire ripped through the house’s front door and a bullet struck a detective in the face.
Detective Jason Picking, 36, a six-year veteran and a member of vice narcotics, was helping to serve a drug-related search warrant in the 4100 block of Caroline Avenue at about 2:08 a.m. when he was shot near the left side of his mouth, shattering his jaw.
Jamaine Hill, 38, is accused of firing multiple rounds through his front door. Officers arrested the man and continue to investigate the shooting.
Detective Picking was hospitalized at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center. The round lodged in his neck, and he’ll require reconstructive surgery.
But police Chief George Kral described his condition Thursday as “critical but stable.”
“We’re still kind of numb right now. We’re making sure the detective gets the proper medical care he needs, taking care of his family, and making sure any criminal prosecution is taken care of,” the chief said.
The shooting occurred as the police SWAT unit executed a “knock and announce” search warrant at the residence, located not far from West Sylvania Avenue, Chief Kral said.
Mr. Hill is accused of firing multiple rounds through his front door while the officers made entry. Police then retreated, and officers did not return fire, said Chief Kral, who praised both the SWAT team and the medical staff at the hospital.
“They showed an incredible amount of weapons discipline and should be commended for their actions,” he said.
Mr. Hill is charged with three counts of felonious assault on a police officer for the shooting. Additional charges are pending, officials said.
The detective’s wife, a dispatcher, was on duty at the time and was on the air when officers made the call for an ambulance at the scene. A supervisor drove her to the hospital to be with her husband, Chief Kral said.
“I ask that you keep his family, his friends, and his fellow officers in your prayers during these critical few days,” Chief Kral said.
Detective Picking, who was not part of the initial entry team, stood about 30 yards from the residence, next to the SWAT truck, when the shooting occurred, Chief Kral said. No one else was injured.
Several hours after the shooting, police remained on scene while neighbors looked on from their homes. Residents said they heard about five gunshots in the early morning hours.
Destiny Coleman, who identified herself as Mr. Hill’s stepdaughter, said Mr. Hill likely believed someone was breaking into the home. Mr. Hill struggles to walk, and may have been frightened by the loud noise of a police raid, she said.
“He was probably trying to defend himself at the moment,” said Ms. Coleman, 17.
The family has lived at the house for about two years, Ms. Coleman added.
Toledo Municipal Court records show Mr. Hill was charged with discharging a firearm in February, 2009. Police said he fired a 9mm handgun inside a Days Inn motel room, 1800 Miami St., striking the floor. He was later convicted of attempt to commit an offense.
Past menacing charges also filed in municipal court show a history of reported threats. In August, 2014, police said Mr. Hill told a woman he possessed guns and would shoot her. Mr. Hill furthermore in November, 2008 made a woman fear for her safety by threatening to "blow her head off," according to police.
Neighbor Rachael Flores, 29, was pleased with the swift and large police response after the shooting. She heard one officer shout, “Someone's on foot. Someone's got a gun.”
Police with flashlights then covered the neighborhood, searching backyards and a nearby garage, she said.
“Probably 10 police officers with flashlights under the decks, jumping fences,” Ms. Flores said.
Another neighbor, Rodney Dumond, saw about 25 to 35 officers coming down the street within minutes. Police immediately blocked off streets and searched backyards, he said.
“Right after I heard the yells and screams down the street, officers were just flying by,” said Mr. Dumond, 53. “My heart goes out to the officers. I'm praying everything is OK for them.”
A police spokesman, Sgt. Kevan Toney, was unable to comment if police took additional people into custody, but said they did search the area. He could not say where the shooter was inside the house.
Detective Picking joined Toledo police in October, 2011. He previously spent seven years with Washington Township Police Department.
Thursday’s incident marked the first Toledo officer shot since Chief Kral has led the department, and the fourth time a TPD officer has been shot since 2007.
In 2012, Annie Huddleston, a then 92-year-old woman, shot Lt. Randy Pepitone in the side of the head with a .357 Magnum revolver as he was checking to see if she was OK inside her central Toledo home. She told officers at the time she thought someone was trying to break in.
In 2011, Toledo police officer Robert Orwig was shot in the leg during a shootout with Samuel Birch.
Detective Keith Dressel was shot and killed while in the line of duty Feb. 21, 2007, in a confrontation with a drug suspect.
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