Man shot by deputy in apparent ‘suicide by cop’ attempt back in court next week

26-year-old was served a search warrant as part of online child pornography investigation.

A 26-year-old man shot by a Butler County Sheriff’s deputy Monday in what Sheriff Richard Jones called an attempt to “commit suicide by cop” is scheduled to be in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.

Alex Michael Hoskins, 26, of the 4200 block of Jennifer Drive in Ross Twp., is charged with felonious assault and three counts of illegal use of a minor in a nudity-oriented material or performance. He was shot by Acting Detective Ricky Phillips early Monday afternoon while officials were attempting to serve a search warrant.

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Phillips and officials with Homeland Security were serving a search warrant as part of an online child pornography investigation when Hoskins allegedly came toward the deputy with a gun, raised it and pointed it. Phillips shot and wounded Hoskins in the hand and chest. The injuries were not life-threatening and Hoskins was booked into jail about 6 that night.

He is being held on $200,000 bond and is now housed at the Warren County Jail.

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

Jones said it’s believed Hoskins purchased his weapon a few days prior, “and it appears his intention was to have police officers shoot him.”

Hoskins was interviewed by investigators, and the sheriff’s office said he confessed to possession of child pornography and sending and receiving pornographic images and videos of children.

Phillips, who is part of the SWAT unit, shot and killed a suspect on Jan. 11 after a several-hour standoff at the Lakota Pointe Townhomes after a response to a domestic report on Jan. 11. An investigation conducted by the sheriff’s office said Junius Thomas, 31, raised a weapon in a doorway, and the deputy fired.

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A Butler County grand jury reviewed evidence in the incident and declined to issue an indictment.

Because Phillips was involved in the January shooting, Jones made the decision to request BCI conduct the investigation into Monday’s shooting.

On Friday, BCI Spokesman Steve Irwin said the investigation is ongoing.

As is policy of Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser, this shooting, like all other officer-involved shootings, will be presented to a grand jury for review.

Phillips, who was hired in August 2012 as a corrections officer, remains on paid administrative leave as is standard policy.

Butler County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer said: “Based on circumstances around this, all indications are this was a clean shooting; so I would venture to say once he sees our psychiatrist and they say he’s fine, he will be returned to duty.”

Dwyer, a longtime law enforcement officer, said chances of an officer being involved in two shootings in less than three months is “almost nil.”

“It is a tragic set of circumstances for everyone, including the deputy,” he said. “It is very rare for an officer to fire a weapon in the line of duty in their career, let alone twice in close proximity.”

SWAT officers are most likely to fire their weapon followed by street patrol officers, but it is more rare for detectives, he said.

“But in this case, the second situation he was assigned to was one that we knew might be volatile. So his assignment put him in a volatile situation,” Dwyer said. “No one wants to take a life. Period. We know it might happen and we except that. But no police officers I know revel in it. It does bother you.”

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