Officer whose pat-down missed gun cautioned against rushing
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio officer who missed a gun during a pat-down of Miles Jackson — later leading to Jackson being fatally shot by officers after a struggle over the weapon — had been previously encouraged to not rush his job responsibilities, records show.
Westerville Police Officer Eric Everhart conducted a brief pat-down before Jackson was put in an ambulance and transferred to a nearby hospital.
“I’m just going to pat you down real quick, make sure you ain’t got nothing on you, right, no weapons, nothing like that?” the officer said, according to his body camera footage.
Within minutes the 27-year-old Jackson, who was Black, was dead. Everhart is white, as are the Columbus officers who shot Jackson.
Everhart had “a multiple week period where his work seemed rushed,” a supervisor wrote in a 2017 report as part of his personnel file. The officer seemed receptive to the criticism, according to the file obtained by The Associated Press through a records request.
“Most importantly, he understood that mistakes can and will be made. However, slowing down will make those mistakes minor and part of a learning process,” the supervisor noted.
In another comment, Everhart was encouraged “to slow down and think through the case in front of him instead of rushing through, just to get it done.” In a third comment, the supervisor wrote, “I mentioned to him that it seems as if many of the oversights he makes are the result of speed.”
Everhart and another Westerville officer are on administrative leave. A police union official called their actions “textbook examples of professionalism and compassion throughout their contact with the suspect.”
“I will say with confidence that any actions of the Westerville officers did not impact the will of the suspect to have an armed confrontation with the officers that day,” said Jeff Simpson, executive vice president of the Columbus police union. He called officers involved in the shooting “absolute heroes who took action that saves lives and avoided a potential mass shooting incident.”
Westerville Police Chief Charles Chandler on Wednesday expressed concerns about his officer’s actions.
“I have viewed the body camera footage from the initial contact with Miles Jackson and have concerns that warrant further review,” Chandler said in a statement.
The pat-down that missed the gun was one of a series of contacts that authorities had with Jackson on Monday that has raised questions about the fatal encounter.
Jackson had been taken to Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital earlier in the day, and then walked away. Westerville police were then called after he was found passed out in a nearby parking lot. After the pat-down, they followed medics to the same hospital, where Jackson was met by Columbus police because of city warrants for his arrest.
Jackson was arrested and charged with assault, domestic violence, falsification and resisting arrest Feb. 20, and Franklin County Municipal Court issued an arrest warrant March 17 after he failed to appear for his hearing.
After Jackson was placed in a private room in the emergency room on Monday, a Columbus police officer briefly handcuffed Jackson’s left hand to the hospital bed, body camera footage showed. A few minutes later, an officer removed the handcuff and began collecting Jackson’s property.
“You don’t have nothing sharp in your pockets, do you?” the officer asked. “Hopefully somebody would have caught that earlier.” About a minute later, a bullet dropped from Jackson’s pants.
“Uh oh. Got a little bullet action,” the officer said calmly as he picked it up. “Don’t see people carrying those around every day.”
Within the next minute, the officer told his fellow officer to grab Jackson’s arm.
“He’s got a gun,” the officer said.
In the ensuing struggle, an officer used a stun gun on Jackson. As Jackson lay on the floor with the officers still trying to retrieve the weapon, his gun went off, launching an approximately three-minute standoff. As one officer stood behind the hospital bed, officers outside the room shouted dozens of commands at Jackson to raise his right hand.
“I’m just scared, guys,” Jackson said at one point. A minute later, he said, “So if I move y’all not going to shoot me. They’re not going to shoot me?” He also told officers he wasn’t going to do anything and that he was leaning on his right hand.
After a second officer used a stun gun again, another shot can be heard as Jackson appears to sit up. Officers yell, “He shot again!” and “He’s got a gun!” and then officers open fire, according to body camera footage.
Seconds later, a hospital staffer is seen trying to enter to help Jackson but is briefly prevented by officers from entering the room, as they enter first. A minute later, Jackson is rushed from the room on the hospital gurney.
No officers, hospital staff or physicians were injured, officials said.
“You’re good. That’s all that matters,” a female Columbus officer said to fellow officer Andrew Howe, who was behind the hospital bed during the confrontation.
In a series of Facebook posts, Jackson’s girlfriend said she was in disbelief over his death and disappointed in the officers’ lack of attention to his mental state.
“He was not perfect but he deserved to feel safe at the time of help!” Jazmine Washington posted Wednesday. “He was hospitalized why wasn’t he safe and why didn’t they check him knowing his mental records.”
Washington told WSYX-TV that the couple cared together for her two children and his three.
“I can’t believe I seen that video I can’t live right hearing the one I love really scared,” she wrote in another post on Thursday. “They failed him!”
Associated Press Writer Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed to this report. Amiri, who reported from Anaheim, California, is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.