A lot of unanswered questions in Ashtabula officer-involved shooting

Posted at 9:37 AM, Jun 02, 2017

One day after an officer-involved shooting in Ashtabula, several questions remain about the circumstances surrounding the incident at the home on West 38th Street.

In a press release Friday, Ashtabula police said they were called to the home around 5:14 a.m. for a report of an armed intruder holding a woman hostage. 

According to the release, three officers responded. Inside the home, one of the officers encountered two men struggling. One of the men had a gun. When the officer told the man to drop the gun, he did not comply and the officer fired. 

Police did not say whether the woman who was allegedly being held hostage was inside the home when they arrived but authorities did say there were three other people inside the home, including children. 

Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell later told News 5 they believe at one point the intruder had a gun but it was taken away from him. The resident of the home, who was fighting with the intruder, had the gun when police arrived, Chief Stell said. He said the resident was shot by the officer after he refused to drop the gun. 

The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure. 

Chief Stell told News 5 the intruder was already injured when police got there.  Both the intruder and the resident were taken to MetroHealth Medical Center for treatment. 

Citizens who held a rally in North Park Saturday regarding alleged racist policing in Ashtabula identified the resident who was shot as Brendan Hester. 

"The relationship that we have with them [police] is very important for our children's sake," rally organizer Mercedes Margerum. "They look at that. So if they don't trust the police, who do we have to call? My goal is to not go against the officers, against the police department. That's not my goal. The police are supposed to be able to protect and serve us and if we do not feel comfortable with them protecting and serving us then where's the justice in that?"

In an updated press release sent Saturday morning, Ashtabula police said they found drug trafficking instruments inside the West 38th Street home after the shooting. 

According to police, a search warrant was obtained by investigators after the instruments were observed in plain view inside the home. During the search, officers seized a digital scale, illegal narcotics and drug paraphernalia. Three firearms and ammunition were also found. 

Police have not identified the intruder.