Officer shooting case close to going to grand jury

Published: Thursday, July 23, 2015 @ 1:27 AM
Updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 @ 8:59 PM


            SCLC wants grand jury to hear officer shooting case 
SCLC wants grand jury to hear officer shooting case 

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is calling for a grand jury to hear a case involving the shooting death of Dontae Martin at the hands of two deputies.

KEY POINTS

  • Martin was shot July 23 on darkened Springbrook Boulevard
  • Local SCLC calling for grand jury to hear case
  • Deputies Gust Teague, Josh Haas had ordered him to drop pistol
  • Sheriff: Pistol, loaded with “cop-killer” ammo, was pointed at them

UPDATE @ 8:52 p.m. (Sept. 15): The deputy-involved fatal shooting of Dontae Martin is a step closer to being heard by a grand jury, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said.

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The sheriff’s office recently received the county coroner’s report, which was needed in order to have the case presented to a grand jury, he said.

News of the report came the same day a group of about 40 that included Martin’s family members, friends and community leaders gathered at the county administration building on West Third Street to rally for justice in the aftermath of his death.

“We are here to let the county commission know that we don’t want them to continue to ignore the fact that the sheriff’s (deputies) allegedly killed Dontae Martin and we’re still angry about it,” said Bishop Richard Cox of the Dayton area SCLC.

He said the group was asking the commissioners to look into what the group feels is systemic racism occurring in the sheriff’s office.

“When this goes before a grand jury, we want an indictment on these (deputies) for allegedly killing (Martin),” Cox said.

UPDATE @1:45 p.m. (Aug. 26):

Bishop Richard Cox, president of the Dayton chapter of the SCLC, said today he plans to bring his concerns to the next county commission meeting.

UPDATE @ 7:45 p.m. (Aug. 5):

The mother of the man shot to death by two Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies last month has filed a complaint with the Dayton Unit NAACP, organization President Derrick Foward said.

Patricia Martin filed the complaint Tuesday, Aug. 4, relating to the death of Dontae Martin, Foward said in a prepared statement.

“We have been in contact with the family Attorney[sic] Michael Wright as well as [Montgomery County] Coroner Ken Betz and stand ready and have taken the appropriate steps to ensure that a thorough and complete investigation will be conducted,” Foward said in the statement.

“The bottom line is, ‘If It Ain’t Right, You Must Indict,’ ” Foward said in the statement.

UPDATE @ 8:30 p.m. July 29:

The attorney representing the family of Dontae Martin and a local civil rights leader Wednesday questioned the Montgomery County sheriff’s account of what led to the shooting death of the 34-year-old at the hands of two deputies.

“There are multiple questions this family needs to be answered. Was Dontae targeted? How many contacts did these two officers have with Dontae prior to this fatal shooting?” Michael Wright of Wright & Schulte asked at a news conference.

He was surrounded by Bishop Richard Cox, president of the Dayton chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and members of Martin’s family.

Wright also questioned why deputies did not turn on the overhead lights of their cruiser after responding on a 911 call and on a dark street during the early morning hours of July 23.

Wright’s questions came six days after Sheriff Phil Plummer said at his news conference that no audio or video existed because “it’s not protocol” to use lights and sirens in response to a one-vehicle crash. The use of lights and sirens activates audio and visual recording.

“Why did the officers respond to this call and not have their overhead lights on? We know that when the overhead lights are not on, the dash cam is not operating,” Wright said.

Plummer’s office, reached after the Martin family news conference, declined to respond to the questions.

Plummer has said deputies recovered a 20-round, FN Five-seveNCQ semiautomatic pistol after the shooting he said occurred when deputies Gus Teague and Joshua Haas ordered Martin several times to drop the weapon after they approached the vehicle he was driving.

Teague and Haas came in contact with Martin, who Plummer said might have been intoxicated, after responding to a 911 call that a woman had placed about a vehicle that had driven off the side of Springbrook Boulevard and into another car that was parked in a driveway.

“We’re approaching the vehicle thinking it’s a single-car crash, so we’re there to help the guy” Plummer said at his news conference. “As they approach the car and they look in closely with the flashlight, the gun is pointed at them, so immediately, it escalates into a deadly force situation.”

Martin, a fiancé and father of six children, was pronounced dead at 1:34 a.m. at Grandview Medical Center.

“Dontae Martin died from multiple gunshot wounds originating from opposite sides of his vehicle,” said Ken Betz, director of the county coroner’s office.

Teague and Haas are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Plummer also said Martin was a felon.

“We believe that the sheriff has told us a lie. We believe that the sheriff deliberately said bad things about Dontae to cover up for the officers that murdered him,” Cox said.

Montgomery County Common Pleas records show that Martin received intervention in lieu of conviction for a 2007 felony case in which he was charged with possession of cocaine and heroin. This newspaper’s background search on Martin showed that most of Martin’s documented interaction with law enforcement had been traffic-related.

“This community and SCLC is upset because (the sheriff’s office) painted a bad picture of Dontae,” Cox said.

Wright said Martin was shot in the head and from behind. He added that none of the witnesses said they saw Martin with a gun.

“So why was he shot and killed?” he asked.

Chief Deputy Rob Streck declined to address those statements.

“We’re in the middle of the investigation now. We have the criminal part to go through, the internal part. We’re not going to make any statements right now other than what the sheriff’s already made,” Streck said.

Haas was involved in a shooting late last year. A Montgomery County grand jury returned a “no true bill,” meaning it found no probable cause to charge him for shooting James A. Wright, 21, on Dec. 27 during a standoff at the Speedway gas station on North Main Street in the township.

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