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Business name changes lead to lawsuits against Franklin County home-improvement contractors

News Channel 4 - 54 min 10 sec ago

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) -- Two Franklin County home-improvement contractors are accused of changing the names of their companies in order to counter bad reviews and trick consumers for their business, the Ohio Attorney General's Office claims.  

The first lawsuit, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, is against Jimmie Wells Jr., who did business under the company names Fine Line Imaging and JUCO. Wells also did business under the name of Five Star Painting, a business which he had no affiliation with, Yost states.  

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"Wells sold home-improvement goods and services to consumers in several Ohio counties. He would accept deposits but, in some cases, fail to deliver or make a full refund. As alleged in the complaint, when Wells did perform work, it was shoddy and he failed to correct it. Furthermore, Wells failed to inform consumers of their right to cancel their transactions, as required by the Home Solicitation Sales Act," a release from Yost's office reads.

The lawsuit against Wells estimates consumer damages at $11,000.

The second lawsuit was filed against Aaron Cowans, who worked under the company names of 1st Pick Home Improvement and Cowans Home Improvement, both LLCs registered with the state.  

The lawsuits estimates $46,000 in consumer damages, and alleges the companies “...failed to deliver goods and services, failed to make a full refund when requested, and performed shoddy work," according to Yost's office.

Car thefts rising in Columbus

The AG's office warns Cowans may still be doing business under the 1st Pick Home Improvement name or as a new entity 1st Pick Basement Finishing.

If you believe you have been victimized by one of these contractors or through another unfair or deceptive business practice, you can contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.

 

Categories: Ohio News

Reynoldsburg schools announce Ogden as new superintendent

News Channel 4 - 1 hour 32 min ago

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WCMH) -- The Reynoldsburg City Schools district has its new superintendent.  

Garilee Ogden was announced as the district’s new superintendent in a statement from the Reynoldsburg Board of Education, Tuesday.

Teen, 15, graduates early from Pickerington, heading to Ohio State University

“[Garilee] Ogden impressed the board with her academic and curriculum background, her
passion for fostering meaningful relationships, and her desire to always put children first,” said
Debbie Dunlap, Reynoldsburg BOE President in the release. “She has a strong background in developing a
supportive and thriving culture in her school district, which allows for educators to educate and
students to grow and flourish. Her leadership has allowed staff members in Groveport Madison
to address the whole child, fostering life-long discovery, and cultivating a positive learning
environment for all in an equitable and empathetic manner."

On Monday, the district stated that Ogdon, who is currently the Groveport Madison Local Schools superintendent, was a finalist for the job, along with Dr. Corey Grubbs, a Columbus City Schools area superintendent.  

The superintendent search has been underway since April 19, when the Reynoldsburg school board hired the firm Finding Leaders to find a replacement for outgoing superintendent Dr. Melvin J. Brown, who has been named the new Superintendent of Schools in Montgomery, Alabama.

A special board meeting will be held May 26, to determine Ogden's start date.

 

Categories: Ohio News

New details emerge from CPD investigation into fatal crash on I-71 north

News Channel 4 - 1 hour 32 min ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Columbus Police has revealed new details into its investigation regarding a fatal crash on May 21 on I-71 north that left one person dead.

Police state a vehicle containing four people turned sharply onto the exit ramp for Morse Rd. around 2:20am before striking a wall and overturning.

Kia Sorrento bursts into flames on family trip to mall

All four people in the car were ejected with one female passenger transported to Riverside Hospital in critical condition, where she was pronounced dead just before 3:00am, according to CPD.

Columbus Police said the other two passengers were treated for injuries at Grant Medical Center and the driver was uninjured.

This was the 31st traffic related death in Columbus in 2022.

Categories: Ohio News

Hail frequently accompanies strong spring storms

News Channel 4 - 4 hours 39 min ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- For the third time this month, large hail was reported in central Ohio, as a cluster of severe thunderstorms marched across the state during the warmest part of the afternoon Saturday.

A few strong cells produced hail ranging in size from a nickel to a quarter in northern Pickaway and southeastern Franklin counties. The largest stone was 1.25 inches in diameter at Mount Sterling in Madison County.

(Photo courtesy Brittany Thomas)

Tall thunderstorms developed in the unseasonably sunny, very warm, and muggy environment Saturday afternoon and early evening, reaching the colder upper layers of the lower atmosphere. Buoyancy fueled by instability (heat, moisture) provided the necessary lift.

Live VIPIR radar, Saturday, 4:13 p.m.

Hail stones require strong, long-lasting updrafts supported by wind shear -- winds increasing and shifting direction with height -- that allow raindrops to freeze and accrete around ice nuclei. The stones grow in successive layers in the upward-moving air within a strong thunderstorm.

Hail the size of a golf ball (1.75 inches), and, in one instance, as large as a tennis ball (2.5 inches), fell in the area around Lancaster on May 4. Hail also accompanied a strong storm at Washington Court House on May 14.

Hail occurs most frequently in the United States in May and June. Annually, hailstorms cause an average of $10 billion in damage. Large hail can shatter a windshield, leave dents in siding and roofs, and destroy crops.

NOAA records show that the biggest hailstone recorded in the U.S. fell near Vivian, South Dakota, on July 23, 2010, measuring 8 inches in diameter and 18.5 inches in circumference.  

An unusual tightly wound thunderstorm system vortex crossed central Ohio Friday morning, kicking off a stormy weekend. Because the complex arrived around daybreak during the cooler part of the day, no severe weather was reported, though the rain was heavy and lightning fairly intense.

Live Vipir radar, Friday 8 a.m.
Categories: Ohio News

Kia Sorrento bursts into flames on family trip to mall

News Channel 4 - 5 hours 39 min ago

LANCASTER, Ohio (WCMH) -- Clara Collins loved her black 2013 Kia Sorrento, the first new-to-her car she'd been able to afford from a dealership.

But on May 2, Collins, of Lancaster, returned from the mall with her 19-year-old son and his two friends. Driving along State Route 315 near Bethel Road, Collins heard a loud pop and pulled over to inspect her tires.

"I loved that car. I bragged about that car," Collins remembered. "I was so proud. I couldn't believe what was happening."

Missing in Waverly: ‘Cut up in a chipper’

The teens got out of the car as it began to smoke. Collins panicked, called 911, and helplessly watched her car burst into flames.

"It was just gone, like that. I couldn't even believe what was happening," she said.

Collins said she bought the car from a used car dealership a year ago and assumed the recalls had been taken care of by the dealer.

"All cars have some little recalls here and there," Collins said. "If there was anything, I didn't think it would be anything where I could have lost my entire family."

Collins said she is a housekeeper in a nursing home. She lives paycheck to paycheck, and said she can't afford a down payment on another used car, particularly since she said she's still paying on the Sorrento.

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At the Better Business Bureau in Grandview, president Judy Dollison said that recall research needs to be built into buying a used car.

"You want to do your research up front," Dollison said. "Make sure before you purchase the car that you get on safercar.gov and determine if there's any open recalls that haven't been fixed. And also, again, make sure you're working with a dealership you can trust.

"It is still important to check the VIN number, because not all cars within a particular model will have that safety recall."

Kelly Blue Book.com says that nearly 300,000 vehicles were recalled in January 2021 for risk of engine compartment fire. Earlier, in January 2019, Kia recalled 71,000 vehicles due to fuel leaks causing a fire risk.

Consumers typically find out about recalls through the mail from their vehicle's manufacturer. Letters tell owners how to get the issue fixed, how long the repair should take, and when the fix will be available. There's no charge, according to the BBB.

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Collins said Kia helped her with a rental through the end of the month and that a fire investigator is currently inspecting the car.

NBC4 reached out to Kia for a comment. Kia is researching the situation and will provide an update as soon as one is available.

Categories: Ohio News

Dry, more seasonable Tuesday, rain & storms midweek

News Channel 4 - 6 hours 36 min ago
Columbus and Central Ohio Weather QUICK WEATHER FORECAST:
  • Today: Partly cloudy, high 74
  • Tonight: Increasing clouds, low 59
  • Wednesday: PM rain & storms, high 78
  • Thursday: Rain & storms, high 79
  • Friday: AM rain, clearing, high 73
  • Saturday: Partly cloudy, warmer, high 76
FORECAST DISCUSSION:

Happy Tuesday!

We've got a dry, seasonable day on tap, with daytime highs topping out in the middle 70s here in Columbus. We'll see partly cloudy skies, and just a light breeze, making for a nice late-spring day in Central Ohio.

We kick off Wednesday dry, but by afternoon and into the evening, we'll be tracking the return of showers and thunderstorms. We'll see scattered showers and storms throughout the rest of the day Wednesday, and also throughout the day on Thursday. Daytime highs both Wednesday and Thursday will be in the upper 70s.

We start Friday off with some rain showers, mostly tapering by afternoon. We'll then see clearing conditions and a dry rest of the day, with daytime highs topping out in the low 70s.

Saturday will be partly cloudy with highs in the mid to upper 70s. Sunday will be warmer in the low 80s with sunshine, and Memorial Day will be even warmer, with highs in the mid to upper 80s with sunshine.

-McKenna

Categories: Ohio News

Driver in Lithopolis crash that killed girl, 9, to plead guilty

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 20:57

LITHOPOLIS, Ohio (WCMH) – A man charged in a Lithopolis crash that killed a 9-year-old girl in July of 2021 is scheduled to plead guilty Tuesday.

According to Fairfield County court records, Kim Patrick Horton, 68, of Canal Winchester, is scheduled to appear in court for an in-person plea hearing Tuesday afternoon.

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Horton has been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony; aggravated vehicular homicide, a third-degree felony; aggravated vehicular assault, a third-degree felony; vehicular assault, a fourth-degree felony; and operating a vehicle while under the influence, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Court records do not state which charge or charges Horton will plead guilty to.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, on July 22, 2021, Horton’s Honda Accord was driving west on Lithopolis Road near Salem Church Road when it drove off the right side of the roadway.

Missing in Waverly: ‘Cut up in a chipper’

The car then drove back onto the road continuing onto East Columbus Street, but failed to negotiate a curve, police said. The car then again drove off the roadway, hitting a small produce stand, two pedestrians, and a house before coming to rest on a tree.

Ruth E. Jones, 9, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her mother, Elizabeth Jones, was left in critical condition.

Categories: Ohio News

Teen, 15, graduates early from Pickerington, heading to Ohio State University

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 20:23

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) – A Pickerington family is celebrating the high school graduation of their son a few years earlier than most families.

At just 15 years old, Drew Parulekar received his diploma from Pickerington High School North this weekend and will be starting college this fall.

Drew actually had enough high school credits to graduate last year at age 14, but he wanted to stay an extra year to take advantage of college credit plus courses available to him. His parents said they’re grateful to the principals, teachers, and counselors who helped him on his journey toward early graduation.

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Drew sported his cap and gown alongside his parents Mark and Tracie as he graduated with a 4.5 GPA.

“We just really appreciated everyone being flexible all the way from kindergarten through graduation,” said Drew’s father Marc Parulekar. “Everyone found a way.”

It was long before Drew was in kindergarten that his parents discovered he was gifted.

“When he was 2, he had to go into the hospital for something and he was in the ER and he was naming all the bones in the body,” said Drew’s mother Tracie Parulekar. “The super obscure ones, too.”

Drew could name all 206 bones in the human body as a toddler, so his parents and educators started to place him in accelerated classes. When Drew started fifth grade, he was taking high school math classes.

Dwayne Haskins was intoxicated when killed on freeway, report shows

“I was most advanced in math, so I really like math and science,” Drew said.

At age 11, he knew he was on pace to graduate early.

"I pretty much graduated last year, actually, my sophomore year because I was taking all college classes this year,” Drew said.

Drew will attend Ohio State University in the fall and he’s already ahead of most incoming freshmen.

“So far, I have about 80 college credits, so I will be pretty accelerated there, too,” he said.

Both Marc and Tracie said they never pushed their son along the way and that he was always self-motivated to keep learning at an accelerated pace.

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“We just kind of moved him where he wanted to be,” Tracie said. “He really just worked on things himself.”

“It was just kind of fun watching him go through the process and grow up and achieve things,” Marc added. “Once again, he’s just very humble. He probably doesn’t want to even be doing this interview.”

Drew plans to major in biology at OSU and estimates he will graduate at age 18 when most students are just beginning their college careers.

Categories: Ohio News

Columbus OKs police overtime, cameras for city parks

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 20:21

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – It’s been a violent spring at some of Columbus’ parks, and city leaders are taking steps to prevent it from turning into a violent summer.

Columbus City Council and the Columbus Division of Police said more police and updated security are the first steps to fighting the crime in the city’s parks.

“Our message and our goal is to ensure these parks are safe, that the streets are safe, that these summer festivals are safe,” said Columbus Chief of Police Elaine Bryant at a Columbus City Council meeting Monday. “We want people to come out and enjoy themselves.”

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Part of the plan is called the City Parks Special Operations, which will entail Columbus police officers volunteering to work overtime specifically at the city’s parks.

The other step in the plan was approved by council Monday: $500,000 for more cameras and lights at the parks.

The move comes during a month that saw four shootings at four different parks which resulted in three deaths and an 8-year-old girl being injured.

“The message I'm going to give people is to come out, enjoy your summer, and allow us to do our job and keep you safe,” Bryant said.

Bryant said that despite the shootings, the parks are safer than some feel they are.

“But again, everything is about perception, which is why it’s so important for us to be out there, to be on the bikes, to be in the parks, to do the walkways,” she said. “Because I want the residents to feel safe in the parks.”

Missing in Waverly: ‘Cut up in a chipper’

City council took two steps in order to make these happen. First, council approved a memorandum of understanding with the police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, to allow extra overtime over the summer, which will allow officers to sign up to work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights specifically in the city’s parks.

Bryant is confident officers will sign up for the duty.

“The reality is we do have a shortage, but we also have officers that are willing to step up and that are willing to work and do what it takes to make sure our residents are going to stay safe,” she said.

A tweet from Brian Steel, executive vice president of the FOP, supported the programs.

"@capcityfop members always have & always will be dedicated to serving residents & providing safety at city parks," the tweet reads. "We appreciate Chief Bryant for her focus on providing solutions to reducing violent crime plaguing our city and @ColumbusCouncil for funding."

Council also approved spending $500,000 to go toward renting 25 new mobile camera and lighting systems for the parks.

“To make sure that people are aware that these are our parks and we will not tolerate violence within our community,” said Councilmember Emmanuel Remy, chairman of council’s public safety committee.

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“The lighting, 100% support, and I think officers just being around for added kind of safety and feelings of safety are important because people want to be outside,” said Columbus resident Briana Lynem, who was walking in one of the parks shortly after council’s votes.

“Just remember these are family environments,” Bryant said. “I'm asking, I'm pleading for some of the people a little more devious in their intentions, don't bring that to the parks, don't bring that to these families.”

The program for officers to work overtime begins this weekend and will run for 15 weeks. The new camera and lighting systems should be installed in the next few weeks, according to the Columbus Department of Public Safety.

Categories: Ohio News

Man pleads guilty to 2019 fentanyl-related death of infant in Hilliard

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 19:39

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A man has pled guilty to charges related to the death of a 2-month-old boy due to fentanyl in Hilliard in 2019.

Ehren Michael Schumacher, 41, pled guilty Monday to endangering children in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, according to court records.

Women shot at after trying to prevent man from picking up young girls, Columbus police say

Schumacher was initially charged with reckless homicide, endangering children, and two counts of felony drug possession.

The Franklin County Coroner's Office ruled the infant's death was caused by fentanyl intoxication, according to Hilliard police.

According to Hilliard police, officers responded to a home on the 4700 block of Jeanette Road on Sept. 1, 2019, for a CPR in progress call.

The child was taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Dwayne Haskins was intoxicated when killed on freeway, report shows

Schumacher and Hazel Louise Piuri were both charged in February of 2020 with the infant’s death. Piuri pled guilty to endangering children in August of 2021 and sentenced to 30 months in prison and one to three years of parole upon release.

Sentencing for Schumacher is scheduled for July 7.

Ehren Michael Schumacher, left, and Hazel Louise Piuri
Categories: Ohio News

Giant Eagle recalls apple slices, peanut butter packs due to Jif recall

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 17:46

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Giant Eagle Inc. is voluntarily recalling packages of apple slices and peanut butter sold in the company's GetGo stores, including shops in Ohio.

In a notice issued Monday, Giant Eagle said the recall is due to possible salmonella contamination tied to the recent recall of Jif peanut butter products nationwide.

The recalled product was sold at GetGo locations through May 13 and have an expiration date of May 29. The UPC code on the products is 30034 93770 6.

Foltz trial: Fraternity pledge felt pressured to drink

The packages were sold in stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Indiana.

Giant Eagle said there have been no reports of illness associated with the items.

The apple packages include Jif peanut butter which is the subject of that nationwide recall.

Customers are urged to dispose of the products or return them with a receipt to their local GetGo store.

Anyone with questions can call GetGo customer service at 1-800-553-2324 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Categories: Ohio News

Car thefts rising in Columbus

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 16:23

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- The Columbus Division of Police is urging drivers to take precautions as the number of car thefts across central Ohio climbs higher.

"We're definitely seeing an uptick this year in 2022 versus 2021," said Commander Duane Mabry, from the Columbus Police Property Crimes Bureau.

According to Mabry, CPD had received 2,940 reports of stolen vehicles this year, as of Monday morning. That is 648 more than what was reported at the same time last year.

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Mabry said CPD had received 495 reports of attempted car thefts this year, compared to the 37 on this date in 2021, adding the increase may be due in part to more drivers now reporting the attempted thefts.

While the figures have increased, Mabry said enforcement has as well. Detectives now process stolen vehicles, whereas patrol officers did that a year ago.

“The mission behind that and the purpose behind that is because each of these stolen cars — they’re a property crime, right, but there’s the dozen other crimes associated with each of those stolen cars that if we can solve those, then we could have an impact on crime overall," he said.

Mabry said police are seeing teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 stealing most of these cars.

Mabry’s advice for drivers is that they park in a garage, if possible, or in a well-lit area. He also urges drivers to lock their doors and keep their valuables out of sight.

He said those who witness suspicious activity should report it by calling Columbus police at 614-645-4545.

Categories: Ohio News

This new Ohio program wants to guarantee kids can read by 3rd grade

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 16:06

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) - Columbus and Franklin County officials are working to ensure that each child can successfully read by the third grade.

The initiative is called "Success By Third Grade," an investment of $1 million to increase literacy, attendance, and reading comprehension for students in Franklin County.

"Reading proficiency at the end of third grade, is the greatest predictor of high school graduation," said Lisa Courtice, president and CEO of United Way of Central Ohio.

The program is run through United Way of Central Ohio, and will address non-academic issues such as poverty, lack of resources, and mental health, which were all exacerbated during the pandemic.

"They've worked so hard over the past two years, so for us to be able to, as a community lean in, and say we will support the non-academic barriers that are holding children back, and that's what this movement is about," Courtice said.

Before the pandemic, seven out of sixteen Franklin County school districts had third-grade proficiency rates under 75%. Those numbers have only decreased during the pandemic.

"We know that to tackle any issues educationally, we have to focus on third grade first," said Melvin Brown, superintendent for Reynoldsburg City Schools.

Reynoldsburg City Schools is one of those seven districts receiving support from the "Success By Third Grade" initiative, along with Gahanna-Jefferson, Whitehall, Groveport Madison, South-Western, Westerville, and Columbus City Schools. But, their goal isn't just to increase reading inside the classroom, but outside of it as well.

"Educating kids isn't simply about them coming through school doors and sitting in classrooms, it's about how they're learning things culturally, it's about how they're becoming and having an understanding of who they are and what they want to do. All that comes from literacy," Brown said.

Categories: Ohio News

Ohio State football tickets on sale for students

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 15:35

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Students at the Ohio State University will soon have a chance to secure their spot in the 'Shoe for the upcoming football season.

Beginning Monday, roughly 26,000 tickets for the Buckeyes' eight home football games that kick off in September will go on sale for students, according to a news release from the university's Department of Athletics.

Dwayne Haskins was intoxicated when killed on freeway, report shows

Students have the option to purchase season ticket packages for every home game or the five conference games in Columbus, the athletics department said. About 19,700 full season tickets will be available, along with an additional 6,500 Big Ten package tickets.

The order in which students can purchase tickets is dependent on the student's rank, listed below:

  • Rank 4 (seniors): Available
  • Rank 3: Tuesday at 3 p.m.
  • Rank 2: Wednesday at 3 p.m.
  • Rank 1: Thursday at 3 p.m.
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Students can log onto their Ohio State Student Ticket Account to purchase tickets. More information on student ticket ordering can be found here, and details for the general public can be found here.

The 2022 football season kicks-off on Sep. 3 against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish under the lights in Columbus.

Categories: Ohio News

Tell Me More: Worthington teen fulfills baseball wish after cancer treatment

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 15:15

WORTHINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) -- If you were able to make a wish and know that it would come true, what would you wish for?

How about if you're a teenager with cancer and you just want out of your cage?

Summer expected to be warmer than average in Ohio

For one teen at Worthington Christian, a cage sounded pretty good, so I asked him to tell me more.

Watch the report in the player above.

Categories: Ohio News

Prosecutor could make $50K more for Columbus police investigation after George Floyd protests

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 15:14

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) - Legal fees are adding up for Columbus taxpayers as a special prosecutor investigates police conduct during the downtown protests of 2020.

The city council is considering paying the prosecutor an additional $50,000 dollars, on top of a contract that began at $15,000 in 2020. Attorney Kathleen Garber was hired in August 2020 to conduct the investigation alongside retired FBI agent Richard Wozniak. The initial contract was for one year, but the timeframe and costs have since ballooned.

Two years after the protests sparked by George Floyd's death, three Columbus police officers are facing misdemeanor charges and the investigation is still not over. Since the $15,000 contract was initiated in 2020, it was doubled to $30,000 in January 2021. In April 2021, another $50,000 was added, and with another $8,000 in November. If the city council approves the latest $50,000 increase, the contract will be worth $138,000.

Dwayne Haskins was intoxicated when killed on freeway, report shows

Asked in 2021 for a response to the second price increase, Garber told NBC4 Investigates that she and Wozniak were having trouble getting officers to agree to interviews, something the police union argued they shouldn’t have to do.

"I don’t think anyone envisioned that the investigation aspect of this would take so long,” Garber said then.

In January 2022, an arbitrator decided officers could be ordered to testify as witnesses. Reached by email Monday, Garber said that development led to some delays in her efforts. Garber also said she was originally hired to only prosecute charges filed by another special prosecutor, who was supposed to conduct the investigation with Wozniak. Garber said that person became unavailable, so she took on both roles.

Missing in Waverly: ‘Cut up in a chipper’

Of Monday's proposed contract increase, Garber said she was unaware of it.

“I have never requested an extension of my contact or more money," she said. "There is honestly not enough money in the world to make what I have endured and continue to endure worth it. This isn't about money. It's about seeing that citizens are given the justice they deserve and that officers are held accountable when they behave criminally.”

The trial for one of the three officers charged started earlier this month, and was put on hold after two days due to unforeseen circumstances for the prosecutor. A second special prosecutor has stepped in to help, and said the trial should start back up next week.

The city council declined to comment for this story.

Categories: Ohio News

Women shot at after trying to prevent man from picking up young girls, Columbus police say

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 15:13

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus police are investigating after two women said they were shot at after allegedly trying to stop a man from “picking up” girls in southwest Columbus.

Police said the incident happened Monday at approximately 1:39 p.m. in the area of Tiger Drive and Regentshire Drive. When officers responded to the scene, the two women told them they were driving behind a sedan on Regentshire Drive that was stopped in the middle of the street.

One of the victims told police the man driving the sedan was honking his horn in an attempt to get the attention of some minors who were at a nearby park. The victim told police she thought the girls looked young and got upset at the man trying to “pick up” the girls, according to police.

Dwayne Haskins was intoxicated when killed on freeway, report shows

Police said the victim then confronted the suspect, who allegedly got out of his car, pointed a gun at her, and fired a single shot. The victim said she fell to the ground and felt something hit her. She suffered a cut to her upper lip and a puncture wound to her chest. She was taken to an area hospital in stable condition.

Another woman in the victim’s car was standing next to her when the suspect fired his gun, but was unharmed, police said. The suspect was driving a gray/black sedan, but no other suspect information is available.

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Anyone with information is asked to contact Columbus police at 614-645-4189.

Categories: Ohio News

Dwayne Haskins was intoxicated when killed on freeway, report shows

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 14:48

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WCMH) -- A toxicology report released Monday showed that former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a high blood alcohol level before he was struck by a dump truck on a busy Florida freeway and died, according to multiple sources.

Haskins, 24, died on the morning of April 9, shortly after his car ran out of gas. He was on the roster of the Pittsburgh Steelers and in south Florida training with teammates.

The toxicology report revealed Haskins' blood alcohol-level was at 0.20, almost triple the legal limit of 0.08 in Florida, according to a report. Other new details from investigators were reported by a Florida radio host and said that Haskins was drinking at a Miami nightclub and left the club after getting into a fight.

Pedestrian hit & killed on I-270

Haskins was reportedly in the car with a female passenger before he walked around the highway for roughly 20 minutes looking to get gas, per investigators.

911 audio revealed from Haskins' wife, Kalabrya, showed she called from Pittsburgh and said, “My husband, he was stuck on the side of the highway as he had to go walk and get gas and then he said he would return to the car on the highway.”

“He said he was going to call me back after he was done putting the gas in.” she said. “I had his location and I just wanted somebody to go into the area to see if his car is there and if he is OK and if anything happened to him.”

Buckeyes fans, players and coaches paid tribute to Haskins at the spring game and plan on season-long tributes during the season.

Categories: Ohio News

Foltz trial: Frat pledge felt 'pressured' to drink

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 14:40

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WCMH) – One of the men who pleaded guilty to charges related to the death of Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz testified in court Monday.

Aaron Lehane was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha when Foltz, 20, from Delaware, Ohio, was pledging the fraternity. Foltz died from intoxication March 4, 2021. Lehane said that during his initiation, when defendant Troy Henrickson was president of the fraternity, he felt pressured to drink the fifth of liquor that was typically given to most pledges during big-little events.

“Moreso to impress the leadership [and] older members of the fraternity,” Lehane testified. “I felt like if I didn’t finish, I didn’t really fail, but didn’t complete the task.”

Missing in Waverly: ‘Cut up in a chipper’

Under cross-examination, Hendrickson’s defense attorney asked if finishing a bottle of liquor at the big-little event with a requirement to join the fraternity.

“The bottom line is if you don’t finish the bottle, you’re still going to get into PIKE, true,” the attorney asked.

“Yes,” Lehane responded.

“And when you talked about that with the prosecutors, you said it wasn’t a requirement, it was a status, right,” the attorney asked.

“Yes,” Lehane responded.

Former member Niall Sweeney, already convicted for his involvement in the death, was another witness called to testify after pleading guilty. Authorities have said Foltz died from alcohol poisoning after a fraternity initiation event where he was allegedly hazed into finishing an entire bottle of alcohol. He was found unconscious by a roommate after members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity dropped him off at his apartment.

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Foltz died three days after he was put on life support. Henrickson and Jacob Krinn are both facing multiple charges, including involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide.

Lehane ultimately pleaded guilty in October 2021 to hazing, obstructing justice, obstructing official business, and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws.

In addition to Lehane, five others have pled guilty in the case:

  • Jarrett Prizel, of Olean, New York, pleaded guilty April 22 to reckless homicide, a third-degree felony.
  • Benjamin Boyers, of Sylvania, Ohio, pleaded guilty April 26 to reckless homicide in addition to obstructing justice, a fifth-degree felony, and seven counts of hazing, all fourth-degree misdemeanors.
  • Canyon Caldwell, of Dublin, pleaded guilty April 27 to a charge of obstructing justice and eight
    counts of misdemeanor hazing.
  • Niall Sweeney, Erie, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in September to felony tampering with evidence as well as misdemeanor hazing
  • Daylen Dunson, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty May 5 to several charges, including reckless homicide and tampering with evidence.

Foltz's death as well as the hazing-related death of Ohio University student Collin Wiant in November 2018, led to the passage of Ohio's anti-hazing law Collin's Law in July 2021.

Categories: Ohio News

Columbus City Council to consider name, badge number requirement on police gear

News Channel 4 - Mon, 05/23/2022 - 14:34

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – As thousands of residents lined the streets during protests in the summer 2020, some Columbus police officers used duct tape and marker for a makeshift nametag over their riot gear.

Some, however, displayed no identification.

The protests, which followed the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, marked one of the largest deployments of Columbus police officers in the city’s history, City Councilmember Rob Dorans said.

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“Hopefully, there won't be a need for that type of deployment ever again, but if there is, we’re going to make sure that those officers can be identified, again, to protect the members of the public but also those officers themselves,” Dorans said.

That’s why Dorans said he introduced an ordinance before City Council, set to have its first reading Monday, that would require uniforms of Columbus police officers to have the officer’s name and badge number – a move he said is intended to increase the department’s transparency to the public.

Under the proposal, officers working undercover would be exempt.

“It makes it seem and feel that there is nothing to hide, that this individual is, you know, just another member of the Columbus community and they should be approached in that way,” said Dorans, who sponsored the ordinance.

Columbus residents aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the increased visibility, Dorans said. Proper identification can also serve to protect police officers wrongly accused of misbehavior – and help individual officers root out misconduct within their own ranks.

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Some investigations into police misconduct cast a wide net, as prosecutors often could not discern who did what, he said.

“I think one of the positive outcomes for police officers themselves is that they will be put into a position where they’re asked to identify who they’re around,” Dorans said. “And frankly, they may not have known who was around them because it’s difficult for them to know when they’re covered in that type of protective equipment who they’re working with.”

Kathleen Garber, a special prosecutor with the Columbus City Attorney’s Office, was hired in August 2020 alongside retired FBI agent Richard Wozniak to investigate claims of police misconduct.

“Being unable to identify the officers has been the biggest obstacle to holding officers accountable in the vast majority of the investigations,” she said.

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The investigation has resulted in the filing of misdemeanor charges against three officers, including the current trial of Sgt. Holly Kanode, but Garber and Wozniak’s investigation remains open. 

Pushback from the Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing Columbus police officers, and the decision of individual officers to not comply with Garber’s requests for interviews – despite the promise of criminal immunity – has delayed the nearly two-year investigation, she said.

“Not only has this delayed and in some cases, obstructed prosecution, but it has contributed to the distrust that the community has in our officers and the legal system,” Garber said.

While some officers makeshift nametags, Garber said her investigation revealed that a majority failed to identify themselves, citing the riot gear as an impediment.

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An identification requirement, Garber said, would “greatly assist” her ability to investigate accusations of misconduct – assuming that a failure to comply with the ordinance results in criminal action.

“I can see it making a real difference in both holding officers accountable and in creating more trust in the community that those hired to protect and serve are doing just that,” Garber said in an email. “Officers who might not fear administrative discipline for not identifying themselves, might not be willing to risk a criminal charge.”

On its own, the ordinance does not criminalize officers who violate the identification requirement, Dorans said. Officers in violation can, however, be subject to disciplinary action by the Division of Police, Department of Public Safety or relevant collective bargaining agreement.

Sgt. Joe Albert, executive officer to Police Chief Elaine Bryant, said the department will comply with any city ordinance enacted into law. He said the identification requirement will “absolutely” improve trust between police and Columbus residents – all while preventing officers from being misidentified.

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“If there’s a cellphone video recording an officer that did something wrong we should be able to see that badge number versus misidentification of another officer,” Albert said.

An official with the FOP lodge representing city police officers said he was unfamiliar with the ordinance and did not have an immediate response.

While some say it’s a step in the right direction toward improving police-community relations, Jon Beard, co-chair of the Columbus Police Accountability Project, described the ordinance as “window dressing” that fails to address underlying problems within the department’s culture.

The issue at hand, Beard said, is not whether an officer is clearly identified; it’s whether law enforcement will be held accountable for bad behavior. 

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“You got the thin blue line – you got officers right next to ‘em that won't say anything, that won't do anything,” Beard said. “Until we have officers who are ready to step up and call out wrongdoing in the division, nothing else seems to matter.”

Dorans said he’s hopeful that City Council may vote on the ordinance as early as June 6. If enacted, the ordinance will go into effect in January 2023.

“I think it's really important to make sure something as important as this isn't left up to policy no matter who's the chief of police -- that this has the weight of city code behind it to make sure whoever is in that chief's chair down the line can't reverse that for any reason,” Dorans said.

Categories: Ohio News

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