Cuyahoga County

No criminal charges in shooting by Richland County Deputies

11/21/2014 3:00:00 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 21, 2014

Mansfield, Ohio – The three Richland County Sheriff’s Deputies who shot 28-year-old Brian Garber to death were justified in their use of deadly force and will not face criminal charges in the case, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced today.

Prosecutor McGinty and his office were appointed by Richland County Common Pleas Court in September to review the case. As is the procedure in Cuyahoga County in fatalities where law enforcement officers use deadly force, the special prosecutors gathered, reviewed and analyzed the evidence, and also presented it to the Grand Jury. The prosecutors made a recommendation based on their work, but the final decision was left to the Grand Jury.

Prosecutor McGinty said that in this case, the special prosecutors concluded that the deputies acted reasonably under the circumstances. After hearing the evidence, the Grand Jury voted to no-bill a series of potential charges, and the investigation is now closed.

“During their encounter with Brian Garber, all three deputies had objective facts that would lead any reasonable person to believe that Brian Garber had a gun and intended to use it,’’ a report issued Friday by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said. “Therefore it is the opinion of the State that the March 16 shooting of Brian Garber by Sgt. James Nicholson, Deputy Andrew Knee and Deputy Raymond Frazier was justified and that no criminal liability exists.”

Garber was killed on March 16 of this year by Sheriff’s Deputies in an upstairs bedroom at his parents’ home in Lexington Township. Subsequent investigation determined that he was unarmed when he confronted the deputies, but that he held an object under his shirt that resembled the outline of a gun, that he told the deputies he was armed and that he refused repeated commands to show his hands.

Evidence indicates that Garber was holding the remote control for a toy car under his shirt during the confrontation.

“Brian Garber’s statements and actions prior to the encounter with the deputies, as well as his refusal to follow police commands to show his hands and his brandishing of an object he claimed was a gun, demonstrate a significant likelihood that Brian Garber intended to provoke the deputies’ use of deadly force,” the investigators concluded.

Little more than an hour before his death, Garber had physically attacked his wife and his mother. He departed the scene of that incident before deputies arrived and apparently went to his parents’ home across the street. He texted his wife that he had a gun and threatened her. He told his parents that he had a gun and they then asked Sara Knowlton, Brian Garber’s wife, to call 9-1-1.

The deputies who returned to Mill Run Road for the second time that evening already knew they were dealing with a violent individual, and this time they had reason to believe he was armed.

“Evidence firmly demonstrates that these deputies had an objectively reasonable belief, based on the facts known to them at the time, that Brian Garber had a gun and was an imminent threat to the lives of each deputy,” the report said.

It appears from the evidence, the investigators concluded, that Deputy Frazier likely fired first, presumably in reaction to a sudden movement by Garber who was sitting up in a bed. All three deputies fired their handguns, and an autopsy showed 14 entrance wounds and six exit wounds in Brian Garber’s body.

“With the benefit of hindsight, it is possible that this incident could have been handled differently,” the report said. “Nevertheless, the law provides a clear standard to analyze police officers’ use of deadly force (…'a reasonable officer on the scene, standing in the officer’s shoes, perceiving what he perceived and acting within the limits of his knowledge or information as it then existed').”

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation gathered evidence at the scene and also conducted interviews with those involved.


Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communications and Public Policy. Phone: (216) 443-7488; or Cell: 216-640-6186. Email: jfrolik@prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us

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