Majority of open officer-involved shootings, investigated by state, are in Northeast Ohio

Posted at 6:00 AM, Jun 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-06 10:45:24-04

Out of 11 open officer-involved shooting investigations being handled by the state, eight happened in Northeast Ohio. And the length of time it's taking to resolve the cases is prompting a local family to speak out in frustration.

"My son was shot in November," said Dwane Cox of his son, Evan Cox. "And not a word from anybody."

Dwane said he and his family have spent the last seven months trying to get an update on Evan's case from Ashtabula police, the sheriff, the county coroner, the prosecutor and the state.

"We called 33 times," said Dwane. But he said no one has ever received a callback.

All Dwane knows is what was reported in the hours and days following the shooting, which happened Nov. 8, 2016. Police said Evan was wanted for a string of robberies and shot twice by an Ashtabula police officer, after striking one and dragging another as he tried to drive away. Both officers suffered minor injuries.

As of April 25, the following Northeast Ohio officer-involved shootings were still being investigated by the attorney general's office:

Since then, Ashtabula police have been involved in another shooting.

"What they did was not right," said Dwane. "What my son did was not right either. But he should be in jail getting treatment and getting help."

Since that November night, the case has been in the hands of the Ohio Attorney General's office for investigation. The day News 5 aired a story about Evan's case, the office said it had just completed its investigation, although it is still considered open because there has been no ruling on it yet. 

His case is also the longest open officer-involved shooting investigation handled by the state. And it is one of four open officer-involved shooting investigations in Ashtabula County.

On the heels of Evan's case is Saif Al Ameri's case. A Hudson police officer fatally shot Al Ameri in December. His case is also still open.

"The longer it takes to get the answers back, whether the shooting was justified or not, whether they're going to charge the officer or not, the pressure is put on the accountability and trust dynamics," said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit, non-member organization.

Bueermann said he is not surprised that Evan's case is still open, but he said it's imperative that investigative agencies communicate their progress to the public. And he called for data to be collected and analyzed.

"The fact that in this country we don't have a good governmental database that captures all police use of force, especially shootings, is just unbelievable to me," he added.

Ohio doesn't keep its own statewide database of officer-involved shootings, and Bueermann said he believes that is key to reducing the growing number of such cases.

Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine told News 5 that the length of time it takes to investigate an officer-involved shooting varies by the complexity of the case.

Robert Stell, Ashtabula's police chief, canceled News 5's scheduled interview. His secretary said the officers involved in Evan's case are all back on the job.