A Yellow Springs man was shot and killed by a member of the Greene County Regional SWAT Team during a July standoff, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday.
Attorney General Mike DeWine said his office will present the case to the Greene County grand jury to determine “if the evidence shows criminal misconduct or a justifiable shooting.”
“This case, while tragic, is not unusual in the fact that there are many Ohioans who are suffering from mental illness, and in need of more treatment options,” said DeWine during a news conference in the Bryan Center in Yellow Springs.
“There is not enough money and the current law makes it difficult for parents of adult children with mental illness to force hospitalizations and treatments,” DeWine added.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation, a division of the attorney general’s office, launched a criminal investigation into the death of Paul E. Schenck, 42, who died during the late July standoff that lasted almost six hours with 63 law enforcement officers from agencies around the region.
The Montgomery coroner’s office report shows Schenck’s blood-alcohol level was 0.18 at the time of his death. Zoloft was also in his system, DeWine said.
Through discussions with family members, investigators learned Schenck was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder as a teenager. Court records showed Schenck also suffered from alcoholism, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Two law enforcement officers from the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy James “Jimmie Hughes and and Maj. Eric Spicer, fired their weapons during the standoff, according to the attorney general. Hughes, a “precision rifleman”on the Greene Regional SWAT team, saw the flash from the barrel of a gun being fired inside Schenck’s home. He fired his service weapon five times out of fear for his life, Dewine said.
The attorney general’s probe also found that Maj. Eric Spicer led a team of officers to the wrong location — about three houses down from Schenck’s home – where they stayed for two hours. Spicer attempted to enter the home causing the resident to dial 9-1-1.
“That call, coupled with communication difficulties among officers because they were unable to all be on the same radio frequency and channel, created a false concern that Paulie (Schenck) was possibly mobile and shooting randomly in the neighborhood from various locations,” DeWine said.
Spicer has been on paid administrative leave since the police standoff in July.
“I can’t speak freely because the matter is still under investigation by Montgomery County (sheriff’s office) who was asked to do an independent investigation of those specific details in order to put them through the filter that’s necessary to get to the truth beyond one person’s perception,” Spicer said.
Schenck’s mother, Uta, said during Tuesday’s news conference that she and her husband were not allowed to speak with their son before he was killed.
“I could’ve gone into my home. He would not have shot me,” she said. “I think we would have appreciated a chance to at least talk to him through one of your vehicles. He asked for us.”
Earlier in the new conference, DeWine said Schenck called out for family members, but “officers indicated that they never felt it was safe to bring a family member close to Paulie’s (Schenck) residence.”
Maj. Kirk Keller, of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, said that allowing the request would not have been routine.
“There is a lot of protocol with negotiators,” Keller said. “… It’s not typically protocol to ever have a family involved in negotiations.
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