FREMONT - Investigators probing the fatal shooting of a rural Fremont man by two Sandusky County sheriff's deputies concluded Bryan P. Jones wanted to die at the officers' hands.
"It looked like a 'suicide-by-cop' situation because the weapon's not loaded, because of what was going on earlier in the day with Jones," Special Prosecutor Timothy Braun said Monday. The investigators "couldn't think of a rational reason why someone would point a weapon that was not loaded."
Suicidebycop.com defines the phenomenon as a situation in which a suicidal person "engages in a consciously, life-threatening behavior to the degree that it compels a police officer to respond with deadly force."
Last Thursday and Friday, evidence surrounding the July 11 death of Jones, 26, was presented to a Sandusky County grand jury, but no indictments were returned against Mario and Jose Calvillo, the two deputies who fired 14 shots at Jones.
Mr. Braun, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor appointed to the case, said the investigation by agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation is effectively closed.
A $20 million wrongful-death suit filed by Tracy and Kim Jones is pending in U.S. District Court against the deputies, Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, the county, and the board of commissioners. In their suit, the Joneses allege their son was no threat to anyone when deputies barged into their house and killed him.
Their attorney, Dennis E. Murray, Sr., said Monday the outcome of the criminal investigation is not germane to the civil case.
"The grand jury decision is entitled to be given the weight that all grand jury decisions are given, and it has no bearing on the litigation that's maintained civilly by the Joneses," he said.
Speaking about the criminal investigation Monday, Mr. Braun said members of the sheriff's tactical response team saw Jones on the couch in the living room with a shotgun across his lap. They could not tell whether he was awake, asleep, or pretending to be asleep, and could not reach him by phone because he had disconnected it.
The deputies knew from Jones' father's call for help that evening that Jones had been drinking for two days, had threatened to harm himself and family members, and had access to guns.
At one point in the evening, Mr. Braun said, four members of the team entered the kitchen and threw a "flash-bang" distraction device into the living room where Jones was.
"They wanted to cross the dining room and get close enough to him that they could get him under control without anyone getting hurt," Mr. Braun said. "That was their plan - disarm him and take him into custody."
Instead, he said, when the flash-bang detonated, Jones swung his gun around and pointed it at the three deputies who had rushed toward him and were then just five or six feet away. They yelled at him to drop what would turn out to be an unloaded, 12-gauge pump shotgun, but he did not, Mr. Braun said. They fired.
Nine shell casings consistent with the M16 Jose Calvillo was carrying and five shell casings consistent with the 40-caliber handgun Mario Calvillo was carrying were recovered from the scene, Mr. Braun said. Bullets from both guns struck Jones, he said.
Sheriff Overmyer, who said after the shooting he believed his deputies took appropriate action under the circumstances, declined to comment Monday. He said with the conclusion of the criminal investigation, his office will conduct an internal review to determine whether the deputies followed departmental procedures.
Both deputies, who are brothers, remain on the job but are assigned to work in the jail.
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