Liberty OSHP shooting report: ‘Clear self-defense’

Liberty OSHP shooting report: 'Clear self-defense'


WARNING: The attached report contains foul language that could be offensive to some viewers. 

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, along with other officials, released a 900-page report stating that there will be no indictment of the officer who shot and killed Cody Dempsey in September 2014 in Liberty.

A shootout between police and Dempsey, 25, a suspected car thief, happened on state Route 11 on Sept. 26 after a car chase.

According to a synopsis of the report, the shooting was done out of “clear self-defense.”

During a news conference on Thursday, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said “Cody Dempsey alone is responsible for this tragic end.”

“Once you decide to pull a gun on a police officer and point that gun in that police officer’s direction, that police officer is not there to wait and hope. He is not there to stand by and be a clay pigeon to an armed suspect,” Watkins said.

The report goes on to say that Dempsey was committing 13 crimes at the time he was shot and killed, including driving under the influence of drugs and felonious assault of a police officer.

Weathersfield Township Police released a statement that their officers, including Daniel Lowery, responded appropriately.

“Weathersfield Township Police Department’s administration and officers would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to all of the families who were affected by the incident that occurred on Sept. 26, 2014,” the statement said.

The statement said the two officers involved have outstanding records as police officers and “followed their training and upheld their duty to protect themselves, other officers and the community.”

“Our officers who were involved reasonably believed that there was an immediate threat and responded appropriately,” the statement said.

The report also states that the policeman who shot Dempsey, Lowery, did so after Dempsey pointed a gun in the direction of a fellow police officer. An autopsy performed by Mahoning Co. Coroner Dr. Joseph Ohr found that Dempsey had Oxycodone, opiates and THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, in his system at the time of his death.

On Sept. 26, police from three Trumbull County agencies chased a blue 1983 Cadillac Eldorado that was reported stolen from a Kinsman auto yard.

Just after 11 a.m., the Ohio State Highway Patrol set up stop spikes, which are rows of material, usually spiked, designed to deflate tires and stop a car’s movement, near the Tibbetts Wick Road exit of Route 11 southbound.

Early reports said he never went more than 75 mph before his tires were flattened.

According to officials at an OSHP news conference, the spikes stopped the car. When officers approached the vehicle, Dempsey pulled out a semiautomatic handgun, leading police to shoot and kill him, according to an OSHP spokesperson.

No officers were injured in the shootout. St. Elizabeth Health Center workers pronounced Dempsey dead around noon.

Officers from the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, Weathersfield Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol were involved in the incident.

Officers involved in the shooting were immediately placed on paid administrative leave, according to OSHP. All three law enforcement agencies involved have the same policy of putting officers on paid administrative leave after an incident in which police use lethal force.

One OSHP official estimated that it had been three or four years since OSHP had been involved in a fatal shooting in Trumbull County.

Paramedics worked on Dempsey at the scene before transporting him to the hospital. The report states Lowery fired 10 shots.

The attorney for Dempsey’s family said they are still considering a lawsuit against Lowery.

“There is an aspect called pre-shot protocol. That is important in these types of situations as to what could have been done differently, or what was done inappropriately prior to the shooting,” David Engler, the family’s attorney, said.

Engler expects the Dempsey’s to hold their own news conference Friday.

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