Investigator not ready to pursue jail case
Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2000
The prosecutor appointed to examine a Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department official’s alleged assault of two jail employees will wait for state investigation results before taking action in the case.
Thursday, April 06, 2000
The prosecutor appointed to examine a Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department official’s alleged assault of two jail employees will wait for state investigation results before taking action in the case. The employees claim Chief Deputy Jim Cochran assaulted them while they were on duty at the county jail. County Sheriff Roy Smith said the incident was part of a training exercise.
Email newsletter signup
"At this point, it’s under investigation and not all the facts have been presented to me," Scioto County assistant prosecutor Rick Brown said.
"It’s up to me to determine what if any charges would come about as a result of (the investigation)," Brown said.
Brown said he could not discuss other details of the case during the inquiry, which is being handled by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, or BCI, in Columbus.
Lawrence County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Walton appointed Brown last week as special prosecutor for a complaint filed March 29 by the two jailers.
The complaint accused Cochran of felonious wrongdoing and felonious assault during an incident in which he allegedly struck the two men, Lawrence County prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. said.
Smith said he could not comment in detail about the incident because it is still under investigation.
"There was a situation where there was some degree of laxity in doing jobs back in the jail," Smith said.
As the administrator charged with training deputies, the chief deputy "demonstrated the danger they were exposing themselves to," he said.
"I notified BCI that I wanted an independent investigation conducted by their department," Smith said, adding that he was not immediately made aware of his office’s internal investigation.
This is not the first question Cochran has faced regarding a training incident.
Cochran also was involved in a training accident two years ago that injured a deputy.
The incident occurred during a June 26, 1998, exercise that involved bringing a supposed prisoner smuggling a mock weapon into the jail.
While two deputies were booking and searching the prisoner, Cochran entered the booking room from the garage and fired a blank at the floor, which accidentally injured a deputy’s leg, according to reports at that time.
A grand jury investigated and found no criminal intent. But jurors recommended that administrative action should be taken against the chief deputy.
That internal inquiry is what alerted the prosecutor’s office, Collier said.
The prosecutor’s office usually investigates all such complaints, but Collier also suggested BCI become involved "because of the sensitive nature of the incident," he said.
Cochran is Sheriff Roy Smith’s son-in-law. And there was a conflict of interest because the prosecutor’s chief investigator, Tim Sexton, will face Smith in this year’s sheriff’s race, Collier said.
"I filed a motion with an attached affidavit to seek a special prosecutor because we regularly have to work with the sheriff’s office and my chief investigator is running for election," Collier said.
"I felt it was appropriate for sake of appearances and work relationships to have someone outside my office look at it," he said.
When BCI finishes its investigation, the special prosecutor’s duty will begin, Brown said.
The special prosecutor will receive a summary report of the incident and has the discretion to decide what course of action should be taken, including whether or not charges should be filed.
Brown could not estimate how long the BCI investigation will take.
Cochran will remain on duty during the investigation, Smith said.