Dayton’s top 2021 stories: police and criminal justice

Over the past year, high-profile cases were resolved, law enforcement saw leadership changes and policing continued to be a focus of community debate.

Here are some of the most significant news that took place in policing and criminal justice in 2021.

Locals charged in Capitol riots

Credit: John Minchillo

Credit: John Minchillo

At least 10 people from the Miami Valley were charged in connection to the U.S. Capitol breach that took place on Jan. 6 in Washington D.C.

The accusations against the local defendants range in severity. Some are accused of planning to carry out the riot before it took place; another is charged with committing an act of physical violence in Capitol grounds or building. Meanwhile, others are accused of walking through the Capitol building.

Locals charged include Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl, of Champaign County; Bennie and Sandra Parker of Warren County; Brandon and Stephanie Miller, of Bradford; Timothy Hart, of Huber Heights; Therese Borgerding of Piqua; Walter Messer of Englewood and David Mehaffie of Kettering.

Police chase leads to fatal crash

On March 30, 19-year-old Jalen Alexander fled Troy police for 11 miles before crashing into an uninvolved car at the intersection of U.S. 40 and state Route 202.

Alexander and the uninvolved car’s driver, 32-year-old Chelsey Vollmer, died. Vollmer’s infant was in her car and survived the crash.

Questions surrounding whether the pursuit was necessary surfaced, and Troy Police Chief Shawn McKinney said that it appeared at the time that the chase followed the department’s policy.

Police reform group recommendations

After almost a year of meeting, the Dayton police reform committee released more than 140 recommendations for change at the city’s police department.

The police reform committee was started following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the protests that took place across the country. The recommendations include changes in training, use of force policy, oversight and hiring practices

According to a police reform implementation tracker, about 34 percent of the recommendations have been implemented and many others are in progress.

Biehl retires, new Dayton chief sworn in

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

After serving the Dayton community for 13 years, former Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl retired in July.

Biehl served as leader of the police department during some of the community’s most defining moments including when the region was hammered with opioid abuse and deaths and through the Oregon District shooting. He was credited for his steady leadership.

This month Kamran Afzal was sworn into his position as the new Dayton police chief. Afzal has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience and previously served as police chief in Hopewell, Virginia.

Officer Holloway shot

On Sept. 21, Dayton Police Officer Thadeu Holloway was investigating counterfeit money when he attempted to stop Antwyane Lowe to question him. Body camera footage caught the encounter in the 600 block of Ingram Street.

Authorities alleged Lowe punched Holloway, and the officer responded with his stun gun. Lowe then allegedly pulled a gun from his pocket and shot Holloway in the head, officials said.

“The officer fell to the ground and immediately returned fire with five rounds, striking the suspect multiple times. Despite his injuries, the officer was able to effectively request assistance for himself and the wounded suspect,” former interim director and chief Matt Carper said.

Holloway underwent surgery and is recovering. He was praised by the interim chief and others for his calmness and professionalism during the incident. Lowe was charged and his case is ongoing.

Paraplegic man pulled from vehicle

Protests took place in downtown Dayton this year after a Black paraplegic man was pulled from his vehicle during a traffic stop on Sept. 30.

Clifford Owensby was observed by narcotic detectives leaving a Dayton home where suspected narcotic transactions were being conducted, police alleged. During a traffic stop, Dayton officers asked Owensby to exit the vehicle and he refused, saying he was paraplegic and asking for a supervisor.

Video of the officers forcibly removing Owensby was recorded and posted online, and body camera footage was released soon after. Activists called the officers’ actions excessive force while the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police defended the officers and said their actions were proper.

Dayton police promised a full internal review of the situation.

Takoda Collins suspects sentenced

Nearly two years after 10-year-old Takoda Collins’ death shocked the Dayton community, the suspects were sentenced to prison.

Takoda’s father, Al-Mutahan McLean; his girlfriend, Amanda Hinze; and her sister, Jennifer Ebert, are now serving sentences in Ohio prisons in the boy’s death.

McLean, who pleaded guilty to murder, rape, kidnapping and endangering children and was sentenced in September to 51 years to life, was admitted into the Correction Reception Center on Nov. 1, according to the Ohio offender search.

Meanwhile, Amanda Hinze and Jennifer Ebert are incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women and have been there since Oct. 22. Hinze was sentenced to prison for at least 22 years, and Ebert was issued at least an eight-year sentence. The women could face more time behind bars, depending on their behavior in custody.

Prosecutors said Takoda lived in hellish conditions for years, being beaten, locked in an attic and forced to stand in painful “punishment poses” for long hours. Prosecutors said a doctor who examined Takoda after he died said the boy’s bruising was the type of injury typically observed in catastrophic events like a severe car accident. Another doctor found that Takoda was battered from head to toe with hundreds of lacerations and abrasions to his head, face, mouth, neck and other areas of his body.

Sheriff Fischer dies

Credit: Greene County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Greene County Sheriff's Office

In November, Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer died while attending a law enforcement conference in Sandusky.

He served as Greene County’s sheriff since 2003 and before that spent 20 years with the Xenia Police Division. Fischer grew up in Fairborn.

He was remembered as a sheriff who cared for the community he served.

“We all lost a very good leader and good friend,” then-Chief Deputy Scott Anger said. Anger was appointed acting sheriff.

Victor Santana sentenced

Credit: Parker Perry

Credit: Parker Perry

After the case spent more than 2 years working its way through the justice system, Victor Santana was sentenced Monday, Dec. 20, to 21-years-to-life in the shooting deaths of two 17-year-olds.

Santana was charged in 2019 with murder and felonious assault in the deaths of Devin Henderson and Javier Harrison. The teens were shot while trying to smoke marijuana in a detached garage on Santana’s property. Prosecutors said the teens thought the garage was abandoned.

The trial began in late November, and Santana was convicted in early December. His defense argued he was using self-defense at the time of the shooting.

About the Author