Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer recently disciplined a detective involved in the July high-speed car chase that ended in the death of Trotwood pedestrian Agyasi J. Ector.
Det. Bryan Statzer was given a letter of reprimand for failing to complete an operational plan before the July 24 incident in which law enforcement officers failed to safely apprehend Aaron Johnson, according to a 52-page internal investigation report obtained by the Dayton Daily News and NewsCenter 7.
“The officer can never understand the grief that he’s caused because of inappropriate action,” said Susan Adegboruwa, Ector’s mother. “There’s nothing that can remedy (Ector’s death) or make me feel better. There’s nothing that can be done to him that will bring my son back.
“Those types of chases have to stop before somebody else loses their life.”
Plummer stopped short of suspending Statzer, who had set up a fake heroin buy in Harrison Twp. on the day of the deadly chase to take Johnson into custody. There was not a warrant out for Johnson’s arrest, although he was on probation for a drug possession charge.
Plummer’s office did not respond to messages seeking comments.
In the report, Statzer said Johnson was alleged to have tinted windows and several traffic violations, and that the driver of the 2006 black Chevrolet Impala had evaded deputies 30 to 40 times. Detectives set up the fake buy through Facebook and had pinged Johnson’s cell phone to learn his location.
When the meeting for the fake drug buy didn’t materialize, Johnson fled in the Impala and used it to hit two detectives’ unmarked vehicles, officials said. Johnson allegedly led authorities on a chase that reached speeds of 100 mph that crossed into Trotwood. Johnson’s car ultimately crossed the center line and struck and killed Ector, 27, who was walking to work on the sidewalk next to Shiloh Springs Road.
“They should not have been on a high-speed chase for someone who was not a mass murderer or someone who was not out trying to kill someone,” Adegboruwa said.
Johnson, 21, has had not guilty pleas entered for him on charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, failure to comply with the signal of a police officer and having weapons under disability. He’s being held in the Montgomery County Jail on a $250,000 bond.
An investigation into the actions of the Trotwood police during the chase is being done by Dayton police. A police spokeswoman said that report won’t be completed until later this month or January.
A 19-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, Statzer met July 24 with other employees from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and personnel from Five Rivers Metro Parks, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Trotwood police about apprehending Johnson, who had previously eluded law enforcement officers on July 22.
The report shows that Statzer and members of the RANGE (Regional Area Narcotics and Gun Enforcement) Task Force, COP (Community Oriented Policing) Unit and Ohio Adult Parole discussed setting up a fake drug deal at Harem’s on North Dixie Drive with Statzer posing as a female on Facebook.
“I guess the guise was Statzer was a stripper and this guy was suppose (sic) to deliver some heroin. I guess that didn’t work out,” Trotwood police Det. Patrick Craun said, according to the report. “The guy texted back and said it was too hot up there.”
The report quoted Five Rivers Metro Park Det. Samuel Hemingway as saying law enforcement would attempt an apprehension detainment. “The goal was to get ahold of Mr. Johnson before he actually got inside a vehicle because of the fact that in the past he fled from them so many times.”
Sheriff’s Office Det. Andrew Reynolds and Hemingway were the officers whose unmarked cars were hit. Plummer’s office refused to release photos of the damage to the car, citing the ongoing investigation and prosecution of Johnson.
“He’s a heck of a driver; he yanked that wheel and split right through Sam and I,” Reynolds was quoted in the report. “Sam’s car got the worst of it.”
The alleged felonious assault of Johnson driving into the officers’ cars was the justification for the high-speed chase, officials said.
Statzer’s letter of reprimand states in part: “Under your own admission, you failed to notify your immediate supervisor of the briefing and the operation to purchase heroin from the suspect. You also failed to complete a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Operational Plan as required,” wrote Capt. Jeremy Roy. “Further misconduct on your part may result in more severe discipline.”
Other law enforcement personnel mentioned in the report include Deputy Brian Shiverdecker, Deputy Kyle Baranyi, Deputy Frederick Zollers and Sgt. Judy Sealey, who authorized the pursuit. Everyone else’s actions were found to be proper conduct.
“The chase was unnecessary and certainly didn’t warrant my son losing his life,” Adegboruwa said. “We are still grief-stricken and it’s just been a difficult process. It’s one that we will never get over. We will get through it but we won’t get over it.”
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