The Clark County Sheriff’s Office released the name of the officer involved in a deadly shooting at Buck Creek State Park on Sunday as well as body camera video showing how the incident unfolded.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation, but Tuesday’s information came in a statement from Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett.
Burchett identified Deputy Justin Nawman as the deputy who shot and killed Michael Spencer, and said Nawman has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard for any deputy-involved shooting.
Burchett said Nawman was patrolling the park when he saw Spencer with blood on his hands and neck and holding a knife.
The sheriff’s office said Nawman requested back up and multiple officers from different agencies responded to the scene.
Those officers tried to calm Spencer down in a wooded area near the back of the Visitor’s Center.
In body camera footage released by the sheriff’s office, deputies offer to help Spencer and tell him to put down the knife.
“What do you want us to do for you?,” one deputy says.
But just moments later, the body cam shows Spencer run at one of the deputies — still holding the knife in his hands.
Burchett said Nawman shot Spencer and he fell to the ground. Deputies immediately rushed to Spencer to administer first aid, but he died from his injuries.
Burchett’s statement continues on to say that, “I understand that in situations like these, rumor and speculation are common. We ask that all parties and the general public respect the investigatory process.”
Melissa Zovak and her three daughters saw Spencer at the park right before the shooting.
They were walking along a trail when they saw Spencer behaving “odd.”
Zovak said he was covered in blood and holding a knife to his face.
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“The closer we got — then I saw him making motions towards his wrist, like cutting motions,” she said. “He, a couple of times, put the knife up to his chin — like under his chin.”
Although she said Spencer did not make any direct threats to her or her daughters, she said her motherly instincts kicked in as they passed by him. She said Spencer didn’t seem to be “with himself.”
“I was fearful. That’s one reason I kinda kept him in the corner of my eye. I thought he might lunge at my girls,” Zovak said.
Zovak and her daughters stood behind a barrier on the paved walkway at the reservoir while the incident in the woods unfolded.
She said from her vantage point, she wasn’t able to hear verbal commands, but she did hear three or four gunshots.
“I kept calm until then but when I heard the gunshots, it really kind of set in how dangerous the situation was,” she said.
Spencer’s mother, Norma Jones, said on Monday evening that she didn’t feel her son deserved to die.
She said her son, a father of five, had fallen on hard times and may have been trying to take his life Sunday.
“He needed so much help,” she said.
BCI will turn its investigation over to a to a Clark County Grand Jury when completed.
It will then be the grand jury’s decision whether to proceed with any criminal charges for any of the officers involved.
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