Special prosecutor to review Clayton cruiser case

Published: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 @ 3:54 PM
Updated: Friday, July 31, 2015 @ 8:57 PM


            Clayton officer in fatal accident likely to face charges
Clayton officer in fatal accident likely to face charges

UPDATE @ 8:50 p.m. (July 31): The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office will appoint a special prosecutor to review the case of former Clayton Police Officer Mark Gau.

The case, which is being handled by the Ohio Highway Patrol, needs to be reviewed to see if any charges should be filed against Gau, who resigned July 21.

A representative of Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr.’s office said a special prosecutor is needed to perform the review because there is a potential for a conflict of interest. The representative declined to elaborate further.

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UPDATE @ 4:12 p.m.: (July 20)

In his two-sentence resignation letter dated July 16, Clayton police Officer Mark Gau states, “the reason for my resignation is due to the fact that I am suffering from symptoms of (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and can no longer function in this capacity.”

Police Chief Matt Hamlin and City Manager Rick Rose released the letter moments ago.

UPDATE @3:54 p.m. (July 20):

Clayton police Officer Mark Gau, on leave since the June 13 collision with a motorcycle on Ohio 49 that ultimately led to the motorcyclist’s death 17 days later, has resigned effective Tuesday, July 21, Chief Mark Hamlin has announced.

UPDATE @ 5:30 p.m. (July 15):

An internal investigation of a Clayton police officer who was involved with in a fatal collision with a motorcyclist, revealed the officer violated four department policies.

Officer Mark Gau has been on paid administrative leave since the June 13 collision on Ohio 49 near Hoke Road.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the crash that claimed motorcyclist Jimmy Payne Jr., 51, of Dayton, who was taken to Miami Valley Hospital, where he died on June 30.

Gau was driving his cruiser out of a Shell gas station driveway when the cruiser turned left and pulled out in front of the Payne’s 1996 Kawasaki, which was traveling east on Ohio 49.

Clayton police were investigating Gau’s actions surrounding the collision and another matter concerning him taking on a job as a bouncer while on the paid administrative leave.

In an internal affairs report dated July 1 and addressed to Police Chief Matt Hamlin, Sgt. Dan Hamlin wrote that Gau violated the following policies:

  • Prohibited behaviors included, but not limited to: inattention, negligence or carelessless in performing duty tasks
  • Members shall operate all departmental vehicles in a careful and prudent manner, obey all traffic laws, using due regard and care, at all times for the safety of other vehicles, pedestrians and the public.
  • Officers shall familiarize themselves with departmental directives, procedures and policies as well as City policies and procedures and shall adhere to them to the best of their abilities./Ignorance of directives, policies and procedures shall not excuse their infraction./Failure to comply with departmental directives, policies and procedures shall result in disciplinary action.
  • Employees must submit a written request for permission to engage in off-duty employment to the Chief of Police and receive approval before engaging in such employment.

UPDATE @ 11:26 a.m. (July 7)

Services have been set for Jimmy Payne Jr., who died nearly three weeks after his motorcycle collided with a Clayton police cruiser.

The manner of death for Payne has been ruled an accident, the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said. His death was caused from complications of multiple blunt force trauma and thermal injuries.

The visitation will be 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Newcomer Funeral Home & Crematory, North Chapel at 4104 Needmore Road. The funeral will follow at 10:30 a.m.

The Clayton Police Department’s two internal investigations of Officer Mark Gau, who was driving the cruiser that hit Payne, are continuing. The investigation by the Ohio Highway Patrol is continuing as well.

UPDATE @ 7:30 p.m. (July 3)

The family of Dayton motorcyclist who was killed following a June 13 collision with Clayton police officer Mark Gau released a statement this evening through their attorney, Michael Wright.

“We the family of Jimmy Payne Jr. would like to thank the public for all your support and well wishes. We would also like to give our sincere thanks to the Englewood EMS and Miami Valley Hospital staff for their valiant efforts in treating Jimmy while he was fighting for his life,” the statement reads. “Jimmy was very loved by all those who knew him and he was especially loved by his children. The day Jimmy was injured he was out enjoying one of his favorite activities: riding his motorcycle.”

Funeral arrangements for Payne, who died June 30, have not yet been finalized.

Gau remains in leave pending investigations by Clayton police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

UPDATE @ 12:10 p.m. (July 1):

A Clayton police officer on paid administrative leave after his involvement with a June 13 collision that killed a motorcyclist will likely face charges as a result of the crash, an Ohio State Highway Patrol sergeant said.

However, Sgt. Chris Colbert of the patrol’s Dayton post said it is unclear what charges Officer Mark Gau will face. The patrol is still investigating the collision that sent Jimmy Payne Jr., 51, of Dayton, to Miami Valley Hospital.

Payne died around 3 p.m. Tuesday at the hospital, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. An autopsy for Payne had not been completed as of 11:30 a.m. today.

The patrol has determined that Gau was responding to a property damage crash when his cruiser collided with Payne’s 1996 Kawasaki. It is unclear if Gau’s cruiser had its lights and sirens on at the time he exited a Shell Gas Station and attempted to make a left onto Ohio 49. That’s when his cruiser collided with the motorcycle, which was heading east on Ohio 49 near Hoke Road.

The state patrol is looking into whether Gau failed to yield.

There was a “no left turn” sign posted near the area where Gau exited onto Ohio 49, according to the patrol’s preliminary investigation report, which was released to this newspaper last week.

The motorcycle was in the right lane of Ohio 49, and the collision caused the motorcycle to catch fire.

Colbert said crash investigators need the coroner’s report to help them determine if Payne’s body caught fire too.

Investigators are currently gathering data to present to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office to see what charges could be filed against Gau.

Gau will remain on paid leave pending the outcome of the Clayton Police Department’s internal investigation into the collision and another incident involving Gau working another job while on paid leave.

Gau was spotted working as a bouncer at a night event, a job that Clayton Police Chief Matt Hamlin said he did not have permission to work.

Hamlin released a statement to this newspaper this morning that said, “We at the city of Clayton extend our sincere condolences to the family of James Payne for the loss of their loved one. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

“As you know, the Internal Affairs investigation is ongoing. We are being thorough with our investigation and ensuring everything is being looked at accordingly. Hopefully, the investigation will be completed, barring any unforeseen circumstances, sometime next week.”

UPDATE @ 8:02 p.m. (June 30): Jimmy Payne Jr., injured in the June 13 vehicle crash involving Clayton police Officer Mark Gau, has died.

Payne, 51, was pronounced dead at 3:01 p.m. at Miami Valley Hospital. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday at the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, an official said.

Gau remains on leave after his cruiser collided with a 1996 Kawasaki on Ohio 49, shortly before 8 p.m. June 13.

The Ohio Highway Patrol is handling the investigation. OHP recently released its preliminary report on the collision, concluding that Gau was leaving a Shell gas station and made a left turn onto Ohio 49 despite the fact there was a “no left turn” sign posted at the driveway where he exited.

Gau’s cruiser turned west onto Ohio 49 and collided with the Kawasaki headed east near Hoke Road. The Kawasaki caught fire during the collision. Payne, of Dayton, was driving that motorcycle.

The accident also is being investigated by the police department’s Internal Affairs Division, which also is looking into Gau’s working another job while on paid administrative leave with the department. On June 20, Gau was spotted at a night event where he was being paid as a bouncer.

Per the terms of his leave, Gau is not allowed to have off-duty employment in any capacity unless its approved by the police chief.

UPDATE @ 10:50 a.m. (June 24): Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Mark Nichols said crash investigators are looking into whether Gau should be cited for failure to yield for the June 13 incident where his cruiser collided with a 1996 Kawasaki operated by Jimmy Payne Jr. of Dayton.

The motorcyclist, Jimmy Payne Jr., remains in serious condition at Miami Valley Hospital.

“We are working with the prosecutor’s office and will wait until Mr. Payne’s condition is more stable before any citations are issued,” Nichols said.

UPDATE @ 8:45 p.m.: Clayton police Officer Mark Gau, who is on paid administrative leave stemming from a collision with a motorcyclist on June 13, may have made an illegal turn prior to that collision, according to an investigative report obtained Tuesday.

According to the Ohio Highway Patrol’s preliminary traffic crash report on the June collision, Gau made a left turn in his police cruiser as he exited a Shell station despite a “No Left Turn” sign posted in the area. That accident sent the motorcycle rider, 51-year-old Jimmy Payne Jr. of Dayton, to Miami Valley Hospital. He remains in serious condition.

Officer Gau’s personnel records, also obtained this week, show he has been previously reprimanded for driving infractions.

Gau has been with the Clayton Police Department since 2002. He was a sergeant prior to probationary release from that position in May 2009.

The department began documenting problems with his driving performance the next year.

  • Feb. 11, 2010: Gau drove a patrol car into a snow drift while in a parking lot in the 8100 block of North Main Street.
  • November 2013: Gau tried to make a U-turn in his cruiser in a United Dairy Farmer parking lot on Union Road and struck a light pole, damaging the front bumper. He was suspended without pay and recommended to attend remedial driving school, according to a December 2013 memo.
  • March 16, 2013: While in his cruiser at the Meadowbrook Plaza on Union Road, Gau was clearing a service call and struck a pole while making a right turn to leave the parking lot.

FIRST REPORT

A Clayton police officer will remain on paid administrative leave while the Ohio Highway Patrol investigates a crash involving his police cruiser and a motorcyclist who went to the hospital.

“Until the Ohio State Patrol completes their investigation, he will remain on paid administrative leave,” said Clayton Police Chief Matt Hamlin.

The motorcyclist was identified as Jimmy Payne Jr., 51 of Dayton. As of Tuesday, he was listed in serious condition.

The Dayton post of the state patrol is handling the crash investigation.

The incident happened shortly before 8 p.m. on June 13 after Officer Mark Gau, 47, drove his police cruiser out of the driveway of a Shell gas station. His cruiser turned west onto Ohio 49 near Hoke Road and collided with Payne’s motorcycle, which was traveling east on Ohio 49.

Payne’s motorcycle caught on fire during the collision, according to the patrol spokesman.

Initial patrol reports indicate that Payne was transported to Miami Valley Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Patrol crash investigators have not yet determined what caused the cruiser and motorcycle to collide.

Investigators will be looking into whether or not alcohol or drugs played a role in the accident, which is normal procedure in this type of investigation.

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