DAYTON — Two security guards who fired 17 shots at a man, hitting him three times on March 1 at an apartment complex were indicted Wednesday on charges of murder and abduction.
Indicted were Justin Wissinger, 24, and Christopher Tarbert, 32. Both were in the Montgomery County Jail late Wednesday afternoon. The guards fired their weapons into Dante Price’s car as the 25-year-old father attempted to drive away from them at Summit Square Apartments.
Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck Jr. said the security guards exceeded their legal authority.
Heck said they overstepped their authority in trying to detain Price and by using deadly force to try to make him comply.
On 911 tapes, the guards, employees of Ranger Security, said they had no choice but to shoot Price because he tried to run them down with his car.
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The two guards were patrolling the parking lot at the apartment complex on Hoover Avenue when they saw Price, who had been ordered off the property. They pulled their weapons and ordered him to exit his vehicle. Instead, Price attempted to drive away, and the guards shot at him at least 17 times, Heck said.
“They were not police officers,” Heck said.
Private citizens do not have the legal authority to detain someone for a misdemeanor, Heck said.
“Therefore, these private security guards had no legal authority to detain or attempt to detain the victim, and had no legal authority to use or threaten to use deadly force in order to make the victim comply with their orders,” Heck said.
Ranger Security officials declined comment Wednesday afternoon.
“You can’t take matters into your hands,” said Saprena Riley, Price’s mother. “You can’t use your position to take someone’s life.”
Heck and Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said Price’s shooting was not a hate crime. Price was black. The two guards are white.
“While we cannot look into the mind of another, including the two security guards, there is absolutely no credible evidence that this shooting was racially motivated,” Heck said. “To suggest such only serves to divide our community.”
Bishop Richard Cox, president of the local SCLC, said he was not surprised by the indictments, but had hoped Wissinger and Tarbert would have been charged with a hate crime and premeditated murder.
“A jury needs to make the decision whether this was a hate crime,” he said. Cox had led a number of rallies and vigils seeking “justice for Dante Price and his family.”
The abduction counts relate to the guards’ attempt to detain Price, according to the indictment.
Each count also carries a firearm specifications, which include an additional mandatory three-year sentence.
Heck said 29 witnesses testified before the grand jury over a 10-day period.
Asked about the guards’ previous encounters with Price, Heck said, “All I can tell you is that the two security guards knew who the victim was.”
The Dayton Daily News reported that police reports show Tarbert had numerous encounters with Price in the six months before Price’s death.
Both Wissenger and Tarbert were permitted by the state Private Investigator Security Guard Services to carry handguns. Both had the required training.
According to state records, Wissinger had been with Preble County-based Ranger Security for several months; Tarbert worked for the company off and on for several years.
Nine months before Price’s shooting, the state moved to have the license for Ranger Security, owned by Ivan Burke, revoked because of thousands of violations. The company’s attorney classified those violations as “clerical.” The matter failed because the state did not follow all its procedures.
On Wednesday, Price’s mother said she was relieved by the inictments, “but he (Price) won’t be here for his birthday next week. But I never gave up hope. ... I just want justice for him and justice for his son,” Riley said. The child is about to turn 16 months old.
Arraignments for the security guards are scheduled for July 26, Heck said.