Woman killed in Brookville police shootout held phone, cloth pouch

Brookville police officer Frank Graci shot Ashley Sides three times while believing she had a gun and just after fellow officer Henry Edds had been hit by gunfire, according to court documents.

Sentencing memorandums written by the attorney for Conrad Davis and Montgomery County prosecutors describe the chaotic shootout at a Brookville Speedway gas station Oct. 31, 2016, that left Sides dead and Edds shot in his left arm. Graci used his belt as a tourniquet to help save Edds, prosecutors said.

The memos do not agree on all facts.

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Brookville officers learned that Sides, 31, of Cookeville, Tenn., was not holding a gun but instead had other items, according to the memo. Davis fired the shot that hit Edds and later tearfully apologized as he walked to jail.

Referencing investigation reports, the memo said a third Brookville officer showed up when Graci was administering emergency medical care to Edds, who was losing blood quickly. The memo said Graci noticed Sides lift her head and turn towards them.

“Officer Graci shouted that ‘she still has a gun,’ ” the memo said. “Officer (Mark) Miller responded by grabbing her arms from behind, revealing a black cloth pouch and a cell phone.”

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Officers ‘acted properly’

Brookville police Chief Doug Jerome has said his officers acted properly given the circumstances. Reached Friday, Jerome said it would be inappropriate to comment until he’s seen the full investigative file by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

Both officers were cleared of criminal conduct by a Montgomery County grand jury. Jerome said both officers are still on paid leave, and Edds continues to recover.

A Jan. 24 statement from the office of Brookville’s city manager said the grand jury’s decision “confirms that both the City of Brookville officers involved in the incident acted properly and lawfully.”

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The sheriff’s office, which investigated the case, has not released surveillance video from Speedway or given any public statements about the case. Sheriff’s office employees have said they wouldn’t comment until Davis is sentenced.

Sides’ crash of a white Cadillac at the nearby Wendy’s after a short pursuit by the Ohio State Highway Patrol started the series of events that ended with Davis’ capture in a resident’s camper.

The memo said Davis shot Edds while driving his Subaru around the gas station’s parking lot. Davis pleaded guilty on Jan. 6 to several counts, including involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault on a peace officer.

Attorney Antony Abboud wrote that Davis faces 10 to possibly 37 years in prison, depending on what firearms counts merge at sentencing and Judge Dennis Langer’s discretion. Davis, 27, is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 10.

Incident play-by-play

The memorandum gave a chronological description of the incident for the first time:

  • Graci and Miller arrived to check on Sides’ damaged vehicle at Wendy’s on Arlington Road. Edds also responded and saw Graci chasing Sides on foot toward Speedway. Graci indicated he saw a black object in her left hand, a brown object in her right and a purse hanging from her elbow.
  • Graci caught up to Sides and was attempting to secure her as Edds arrived. From behind, Graci grabbed Sides by the arms near the shoulder, spinning her toward Edds, who also noticed something in Sides’ hand.
  • At that instant, Davis’ Subaru entered the parking lot and drove between Edds and Graci. Edds said he thought the SUV was going to pick up Sides. Davis was seen with his arm outside the driver’s window with a gun in his hand, according to the defense memo.
  • Davis fired one shot that hit Edds. Believing his life was in danger, Edds returned fire before yelling out that he had been shot, causing Graci to fire three shots into the back of Sides. The prosecutors’ memo said Graci heard Edds say, “She shot me. I’m shot, I’m shot.”
  • The prosecutors’ memo disputes that Edds saw a gun in Davis’ hand, saying he didn’t notice any weapon related to the SUV driver until after he was shot.
  • As the blue Subaru SUV drove to Arlington Road it stopped, Davis exited and started towards the officers, the defense said. Edds again fired twice, causing Davis to get into the Subaru and flee. The prosecutors’ memo said there’s no proof that Davis got out of his vehicle. It also quotes Edds as saying, “Believing that the driver was preparing to shoot again, I pulled my weapon and fired twice at him. I did so to stop the threat as I believed that my life and the life of the others were in danger. After my second shot the SUV sped off.”
  • After Miller arrived, officers discovered Sides didn’t have a weapon, but rather a black cloth pouch and a cell phone. Prosecutors pointed out that Graci, using his belt as a tourniquet, likely saved Edds’ arm if not his life.
  • Davis was apprehended Nov. 1, 2016, in a resident’s camper after an extended search discovered Davis’ vehicle in a pond.

Defense asks for 10 years, prosecution 30

Abboud quoted a sheriff’s office report that said Davis fired one shot towards police that caused Graci to “neutralize Sides in belief that she had a firearm,” which accounts for the involuntary manslaughter count.

“The death of Ms. Sides was at the hands of Officer Graci,” Abboud wrote. “It takes a substantial stretch of the imagination to find the killing was directly associated with the felonious assault as part of one continuous occurrence.”

Abboud argued in his memo that the manslaughter count and the assault on a peace officer should merge for sentencing and that Graci “mistakenly concludes that Ms. Sides shot Officer Edds.”

Abboud wrote that Davis’ only motivation was to deter police from the vicinity of Ms. Sides.

“While the State is likely to argue that each offense caused a separate, identifiable harm, only one criminal act was committed,” Abboud wrote. “Ms. Sides was fleeing from police, in possession of a stolen vehicle. Sides was believed to be armed and dangerous as she was taken to the ground by police.

“The death of Ms. Sides was not a foreseeable result of Mr. Davis’ felony.”

Prosecutors argue for consecutive sentences for Davis’ actions and another eight years for firearm specifications, totalling 30 years.

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