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Published: Saturday, 12/2/2006

Panel to review sheriff firing gun during standoff

BOWLING GREEN - The internal affairs committee of the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association has been asked to investigate whether Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn violated departmental policy by firing his gun during a standoff with a suicidal man Tuesday.

Chief Deputy Eric Reynolds said yesterday that he decided to have the outside agency review the case for objectivity's sake.

"I just felt that to be totally neutral and unbiased, the best thing to do would be to have another agency outside of the county conduct the investigation and the review board," he said.

Wood County sheriff's deputies and the county's Special Response Team were called Tuesday to the home of Philip Harris, just north of Bowling Green, where Mr. Harris had a gun and was threatening to kill himself.

According to incident reports, Mr. Harris also said "he was going to make one of the deputies shoot him and began to ask who wanted to shoot him."

About 2 1/2 hours into the three-hour standoff with the officers, Sheriff Wasylyshyn fired his gun once in what he said was an attempt to shoot Mr. Harris' gun out of his hand. The sheriff missed.

No one was injured, and officers eventually were able to subdue Mr. Harris and take him into custody.

Sandusky County Sheriff David Gangwer, who serves as chairman of the internal affairs committee for the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association, said he would ask a sheriff's office outside Wood County to send a detective to investigate the incident.

"They look at their policies and procedures and especially when it comes to discharging a weapon and whatever they conclude, they go right down the middle of the road and give their report to the sheriff that requested it," Sheriff Gangwer said, adding that he and the executive director of the sheriffs' association also would receive copies of the investigator's conclusions.

Chief Deputy Reynolds said that he took the sheriff's gun yesterday as evidence for the investigation but issued a new gun to the sheriff, who remains on duty. "He's still sheriff. He's still in control," Mr. Reynolds said.



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