Kylen English: Feds not pursuing charges

Published: Friday, July 20, 2012 @ 5:09 PM
Updated: Friday, July 20, 2012 @ 7:43 PM

The U.S. Justice Department will not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against Dayton police or the sheriff’s office concerning the death of Kylen English, federal officials announced late Friday afternoon.

There is insufficient evidence to pursue the charges in English’s death July 16, 2011, according to the justice department release.

English, 20, died after he escaped from a police cruiser while handcuffed, then jumped off the Salem Avenue bridge.

A U.S. Department of Justice investigation has cleared the Dayton Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office of misconduct in the July 16, 2011, death of Kylen English after he escaped a police cruiser by breaking out a window and jumped off the Salem Avenue bridge, falling 30 feet to rocks below on the flood plain of the Great Miami River.

“There is a lack of evidence to contradict the medical examiner’s finding that English committed suicide or to support allegations of misconduct by law enforcement that surfaced following Mr. English’s death,” the department wrote in an announcement released late Friday afternoon.

“There is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges,” the announcement said.

Derrick Foward, president of Dayton unit of the NAACP, said the civil rights organization, which called for an independent federal investigation by the FBI, supported the decision. “When we called for the investigation, we also said we would support their decision. We feel saddened for his (English) family.”

Rachel Shaw, English’s mother said Friday she would not comment, referring a reporter to the family’s attorney who has filed a lawsuit against the city and a local hospital.

The attorney, James Greene III, said he was dismayed with the Justice Department’s conclusion. “There is an abysmal failure to do a sufficient examination,” he said, saying a medical expert hired by the family to review the coroner’s findings found no evidence that indicated English used his head or arms to break out the cruiser’s window.

“I’m pleased the Justice Department found our policies and procedures were never violated, not Mr. English’s civil rights,” Sheriff Phil Plummer said Friday evening.

“We thought an independent, outside investigation was important,” City Manager Tim Riordan said. “Our goal now is to move forward … to strengthen community-police relations and to create an environment that promotes safety, fairness and respect for all.”

A police officer was transporting English, 20, from Grandview Hospital to the Montgomery County Jail following an evaluation. As the cruiser turned onto the Salem Avenue bridge, police said the 6-foot, 210-pound English, seated unbelted in the back of the cruiser with his hands handcuffed behind his back, broke out the passenger-side window with his head, rolled out the window as the cruiser stopped and leaped over the bridge railing.

Seconds before breaking out the window, English is heard on the police cruiser’s audio-tape asking the officer, “Do you believe you go to heaven if you kill yourself?” and then “I want to die.”

The federal investigation is the third to conclude the death a suicide. A police investigation and a Montgomery County Coroner’s investigation came to the same conclusion. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation, finding no fault with the deputies’ actions while English was at the jail.

English had been arrested earlier in the day after he allegedly attempted to kick down the door of a relative of his girlfriend, who was in a back bedroom. Security video from the apartment hallway shows an enraged English kicking the door and screaming. After his arrest several blocks from the scene, English was taken to the jail.

Grainy, stop-action security video from the jail , showed English and the officer walking to the jail intake. While the officer was filling out the booking slip, English stood facing the cinderblock wall. The next frame, 3 seconds later, showed English slumped on the floor.

Police said English had slammed his head into the wall. With the help of deputies, the officer rushed English into a “shake down” room where he was checked by jail medical staff. The staff refused to accept English because his pupils were not responding properly to light, indicating a possible head injury. The officer then placed English back in his cruiser and took him to Grandview where he was evaluated and medically cleared.

During his trip from the hospital, the officer turned on his in-car audio and the forward-facing video system, telling English he was being recorded. After English’s last statement that he wanted to die, the audio picked up several bangs — English apparently using his head to hit the right-rear passenger window. As the office pulled over to the side of the bridge and stopped the cruiser, the video showed shards of safety glass falling on the cruiser’s hood. The officer is heard shouting as he sees English launch himself out the window and over the bridge railing.

Some members of the family initially told police and the Dayton Daily News that English suffered from depression and “self-harming behavior.” Family members later denied making the statements.

Other family members alleged police had Tased and beaten English. Neither the videotapes, audiotapes, the police investigation, the sheriff’s investigation, the coroner’s autopsy nor the Justice Department investigation found any evidence to support those allegations.

Greene, the family’s attorney, said their medical expert concluded English died from the fall from the bridge.

In their lawsuit, the family alleges both the hospital and the police were negligent. Greene said Friday police had a duty to keep English safe while in their custody, a duty they failed.

Truck loses top beneath 'Graffiti Bridge'

Published: Saturday, January 14, 2017 @ 10:52 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 14, 2017 @ 10:52 PM

            Truck loses top beneath 'Graffiti Bridge'

A box truck lost its top driving beneath a bridge -- and an artist’s video camera caught the accident as it happened.

Artist Roger Fine was working on a “Happy Holiday” mural at the Graffiti Bridge, a former train trestle turned artistic landmark, when a rental truck careened down the street and lost its top on the low-clearance overpass.

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The video was seen live a few weeks ago by followers of The Graffiti Bridge Facebook page but a clip of the impact was posted Friday.

A “Here’s Your Sign” T-Shirt, emblazoned with the image of a 10-foot, 8-inch yellow clearance sign, is for sale through the landmark’s website.

“We all know the inspiration behind this shirt, and well... It happened again,” the description reads. “It seems another truck driver ignored the signs and wanted to test the strength of his truck, and #TheGraffitiBridge won again.”

Truck drivers who hit the bridge can get a shirt for free. And while the bridge has been hit numerous times, no one has yet to take them up on the offer.

Police: Elderly woman hears grandson stab her daughter to death

Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 @ 10:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

            Police: Elderly woman hears grandson stab her daughter to death

An elderly Texas woman listened helplessly over the phone Friday night as her grandson stabbed her daughter to death, police said.

Dedré Jefferson and her mother, Ella Jefferson, were worried about Blake Jefferson, a 22-year-old student at Texas Southern University, according to police. ABC 13 in Houston reported that Blake had begun having “spiritual visions” and, on a recent Sunday, ran into a local church and interrupted services to tell the congregation about those visions.

Dedré Jefferson, a former longtime teacher who last year was elected to the Alief ISD’s board of trustees, had made an appointment for her son to talk to someone about his mental health on Friday, a family friend told the news station.

That appointment came too late.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Ella Jefferson, 73, got a phone call around 2 a.m. Friday from her 48-year-old daughter, who told her that Blake Jefferson was acting strange. She said she thought her son had taken some pills.

Ella Jefferson told her daughter to run away and find help.

“I can’t. He’s stabbing me,” Dedré Jefferson told her mother just before the phone went dead, the Chronicle reported.

Ella Jefferson called police and drove to the townhouse that her daughter and grandson shared. She also called the family’s minister, Gregg Patrick, who met her in front of the home.

“She was screaming, ‘I think he killed my daughter,’” Patrick told the newspaper.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they and Ella Jefferson found Dedré Jefferson’s body in the garage of the home. She had been stabbed multiple times.

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Blake Jefferson was arrested for murder a short time later in a neighboring townhouse after breaking into the unit and hiding in a closet, the Chronicle said.

Family and friends are left trying to figure out why the young man, who had no criminal record, attacked his mother.

“At this point, we have no idea what the argument was, or if there was even an argument,” Harris County sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Beall told the Chronicle.

KHOU reported that Blake Jefferson sobbed loudly Monday morning during a brief court appearance in his case. He is being held without bond in the Harris County jail.

A candlelight vigil was held Monday night to remember Dedré Jefferson, who Alief ISD Superintendent H.D. Chambers described as a “proud Alief ISD graduate, former employee and current board member.”

School board members also released a statement in which they said they are “devastated by the tragic loss” of their friend and colleague.

“You will not find a bigger advocate for public education than Dedré Jefferson,” the statement read. “She made a lasting impression on everyone she met in the community. Her impact will be felt for a very long time in Alief. She will be missed by many.”

Jefferson’s funeral is set for Thursday. 

New restaurants, retail shops coming to Oxford

Published: Friday, October 28, 2016 @ 2:25 PM
Updated: Saturday, October 29, 2016 @ 4:37 PM

New restaurants and retail shops are coming to a development on the former Walmart site in Oxford.

Bishop Square — a 50,000-square-foot mixed use development at 419 Locust Street that currently includes 272 units of student housing — is adding Marco’s Pizza, Tim Hortons, a Sprint retail store and a bank.

“The final stage is important because we’ll be building the outlots that sit along Locust, which will serve as the front door to the whole project,” said Josh Rothstein, of Blue Ash-based OnSite Retail Group, which is handling marketing and leasing for the project. “The retailers and restaurants are excited to open their locations here because being across from Kroger, TJ Maxx and Dollar Tree provides tremendous exposure, great visibility and easy access to the shoppers already passing through this part of town.

“It’s also easily in walking distance to not only the concentration of Miami’s campus, but also the off-campus housing population,” Rothstein said.

Two other storefronts on the site are being are in the process of being leased, he said.

Existing Bishop Square tenants include Oxford Lane Library, Mercy Health - Orthopaedics and Sports Rehabilitation, Great Clips and Cloud 9 Vapor Lounge. A second-floor above some of those tenants includes office space.

Alan Kyger, Oxford’s economic development director, said the community is excited to see the Bishop Square project moving into its final phases.

“In 2005, when Walmart moved away from this site, the abandoned building that was left behind was a large eyesore for the Tollgate Business District, as well as for the whole community,” Kyger said. “Developer Robert Fiorita is to be commended in providing such a good-looking redevelopment project.

“The addition of these merchants will provide the citizens of Oxford additional shopping options. I expect each of these new businesses to be very successful in this new development.”

Marco’s Pizza has 700 stores in 35 states, doubling in size over the last five years and on track to 1,000 stores by the end of 2017, according to the company. Area locations include Middletown, Monroe, Hamilton and Liberty Twp. in Butler County.

Tim Hortons has more than 4,400 locations in the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Area locations include Monroe, Springboro and Maineville in Warren County.

Mother, 25, sent to prison in infant’s death

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 5:11 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 7:06 PM

A 25-year-old mother convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering in the 2009 death of her 6-month-old son was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison.

Amber Gipson was convicted on Sept. 4 on single counts of each crime, the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office said.

Her son was found dead July 29, 2009, in a laundry basket beside a bed in which she was sleeping, according to police. Toxicology tests found cocaine in the blood streams of Gipson, who was 23 at the time, and the baby.

The county coroner ruled the cause of death as positional asphyxia.

“This mother utterly failed to protect her child from harm,” Heck said. “Parents have a responsibility to care for their children and cannot do that when they are high on cocaine, as this mother was.”

According to court records, Gipson has a long arrest record, including for prostitution-related offenses. In 2005, she served six months for grand theft auto. In 2006, she served six months for drug trafficking in crack cocaine.