An investigation has been launched by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations after a local news photographer was shot by a Clark County deputy while trying to take pictures of a traffic stop in downtown New Carlisle Monday night.
New Carlisle News photographer Andy Grimm was trying to take pictures of a traffic stop conducted by Clark County Deputy Jake Shaw when Shaw fired on him, according to a Clark County Sheriff’s Office release. Grimm was injured, according to the release, and was taken to the Miami Valley Medical Center.
He was released from the hospital mid-day Tuesday.
Information as to why the officer fired his service weapon is not known, although a New Carlisle News report suggests Shaw thought either Grimm’s tripod or his camera was a weapon.
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“Deputy Shaw has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of that investigation and will attend critical incident debriefing,” the release says.
The OBCI was requested to investigate the incident by the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.
“We have been asked to handle the investigation so we are doing that,” DeWine said. “The Attorney General office is in charge of the investigation. It is not unusual when you have a situation with an officer-involved shooting,”
DeWine said he could not comment as to what exactly took place Monday night, but did say it appears Grimm was attempting to take a picture when he was shot.
“I really don’t want to get into the details because we had not had the opportunity to interview the deputy or the man who was shot,” DeWine said. “We anticipate that will be done as soon as possible. This investigation will take a number of days and we won’t be able to release much as that investigation goes on.”
He said his office was called investigate the shooting because it is the best way to ensure no one is influenced by previous relationships or connections with those involved.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Department said they would release personnel records for Shaw Wednesday.
Those who know Grimm were surprised by the shooting, especially because Grimm seems to be very supportive of law enforcement.
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“He’s a great guy,” said State Rep Kyle Koehler (R) of Grimm. “Everybody knows Andy, and I was a little shocked when I heard about it.”
Koehler said Grimm covered a shooting simulator that was sponsored by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office at the Clark County Fair earlier this summer. He said Deputies are under pressure to make the right decisions and both Grimm and Shaw need support. A New Carlisle News report says that Andy Grimm has said that he hopes Shaw does not lose his job over the shooting.
“Accidents are going to happen,” Koehler said. “One thing that we saw is these officers are under a lot of stress. They are always, day in and day out, putting their lives on the line. I know Andy understands that because he reports on it regularly. It just says a whole lot about Andy Grimm and who he is as a man to say right away don’t pick on Jake.”
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Kathy Voytko works with Grimm and said he loves taking pictures and seemingly always has his camera with him. She said he is a good person.
“Andy is a very giving person and he gives everybody the benefit of the doubt,” Voytko said. “We will wait for the investigation to be completed before we say anything.”
She said she is sure he is happy to be home with his family.
“Andy has three small children at home so I’m sure he’s wanting to get home and see his family,” she Voytko said.
Social media swiftly reacted to the shooting as many residents in Clark County weighed in on whether it was right for Shaw to discharge his weapon. Some called for Shaw to either resign or be fired while others offered prayers to both him and Shaw.
Patrick Oliver, an associate professor of criminal justice at Cedarville University, is an expert in law enforcement and use of force. He said during a traffic stop an officer usually experiences a heightened sense of alert.
“A traffic stop is one of the highest risks law enforcement encounters,” Oliver said.
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He said a photographer being shot is rare.
“I don’t know of another case when a reporter has been shot,” he said. “I thought that was highly unusual and it begs the question what the officer was thinking and what he was seeing.”
Oliver said the most important question the OBCI needs to answer is whether Shaw’s action was objectively reasonable based on the totality of circumstances.
“I think people need to avoid rushing to judgment,” Oliver said. “They need to wait until the investigation is complete.”
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office release asked the residents to respect both men.
“Our hearts and prayers are with Mr. Grimm as he recovers and with Deputy Jake Shaw and we ask the community to keep both of them in your hearts and prayers as well,” the release says.