Dayton Daily News, Ohio
A Butler County grand jury had declined to indict five Monroe officers for the February shooting that killed Dustin Booth.
Five officers have been on paid administrative leave since the incident that happened late Feb. 11 after hours of Monroe officers trying to talk and negotiate with 35-year-old Booth, who was experiencing mental health issues, according to police.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation and the findings were presented to a grand jury this week.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser announced the grand jury results this morning.
The BCI investigation revealed Booth had a recent history of behavioral issues resulting in a brief hospitalization. On Feb. 11, those issues reemerged and the Monroe Police Department was called in because of concerns that Booth may endanger himself and others with a firearm he was seen to possess, according to Gmoser.
” The Monroe Police Department made the tactical decision not to escalate Mr. Booth’s condition and did not forcibly confront Mr. Booth where he was isolated in his home alone after failing to comply with police orders to stop a vehicle he was driving when the police were informed of his conduct. The home of Mr. Booth is in close proximity to neighbors and any confrontation there was seen as endangering the civilian population. Two police negotiators by phone were also unsuccessful in convincing Mr. Booth to meet with police and his voluntary temporary isolation was decided upon as the best immediate solution until Mr. Booth decided to come forward peaceably,” Gmoser said.
Late in the day, Booth took it upon himself to intercede, Gmoser said. The man gave Booth a ride away from the neighborhood and he was able to inform the police via text that Booth was armed with a pistol.
“At a location in Monroe near State Route 63, the police directed the driver to stop and Booth exited the vehicle with his .45 caliber, fully loaded, revolver in a holster over his shoulder and continued to walk away after the police directed him to stop. He did not, but with both hand (s) in the air as seen by a witness nearby. A police canine was directed to intercept Mr. Booth, but was unsuccessful in stopping him. There upon, Mr. Booth was physically confronted by a Monroe police officer as four other Monroe officers converged,” Gmoser said.
“Both the confronting officer and Mr. Booth went down to the ground, and as Mr. Booth stood up with his pistol in hand, he pointed it in the direction of the five Monroe police officers, all of whom immediately fired their service weapons to stop the assault. This action was captured on a police officer body camera and is definitive of the moment before shots were fired. Mr. Booth was struck multiple times and he survived a short time before he died at a local hospital. Using lethal force by the Monroe police to stop the lethal threat of force directed against them was justified and appropriate.”
Body camera videos from the officers involved, Sgt. Caleb Payne, Officer Michael Doughman, Officer Skylar Halsey, Officer Micah Day and Officer Austin Whitt, were released earlier this month by Monroe police. The nighttime videos, which are shaky from officers’ activity, appear to show that Booth had a gun in his hand when the officers fired.
Warren County Coroner Russell Uptegrove said a preliminary report indicates Booth was shot 13 times.
Police said he drew a firearm from his waistband and was shot by officers.
In the stressful scene, a man, likely the driver of the vehicle Booth was in, exited during the traffic stop and is seen crawling from the truck to the officers.
An officer asks if the man is hurt and the response is, “No, no. I am fine.”
A person, maybe an officer or the driver, is heard yelling, “Stop him, stop him, he has got a gun.”
The K-9 officer releases the dog from the cruiser and there is yelling: “you are going to get bit.”
“Come back, come to me. Stop,” an officer yells at Booth, who appears to lower his hands. “Get you hands up.”
The police dog runs to Booth but does not appear to bite. An officer also approaches.
Booth says, “Listen to me I don’t want to hurt nobody.”
Officers continue to yell, “get on the ground.”
Booth is moving around and appears to turn with a shiny object that looks like a gun in his hand.
Shots are fired and officers yell at Booth, who is down in the median, “don’t move. Do not reach for that gun.”
Booth’s wife called 911 about 2:10 p.m. on that day stating her husband was experiencing a mental health crisis. She also said he was a danger to himself and to others.
Officers went to the the neighborhood where Booth drove to his Blue Grass Lane residence. He went inside without complying with officers trying to stop him, according to Monroe police.
“Attempts to make contact with him through several different methods were attempted over the next several hours. Dustin was observed by officers to have a handgun in his possession while inside his residence and he appeared to be very agitated. Negotiators from the West Chester/Monroe Tactical Response Team as well as the Crisis Response Team from Butler Behavioral Health Services were requested to the scene in an effort to communicate with Dustin and to get him to the hospital for mental health treatment,” police said in the news release.
Officers believed Booth was armed and had access to other weapons in the house. They “pulled back” from the residence in an effort to calm the situation, but maintained observation on the residence out of concerns for the safety of the surrounding neighbors and community, police said.
When Booth left the house as a passenger in a vehicle, officers followed because there was a concern he was a danger to himself and the community. Officers followed to coordinate a traffic stop in and effort to take Booth into custody and have him transported to the hospital for mental health evaluation.
Police said there were several officers involved in the traffic stop due to a heightened risk because of Booth’s actions, as well as the knowledge that he might still be armed.
When Booth exited the vehicle, he failed to comply with the order of several officers and began walking away from the vehicle toward Ohio 63 with his hands up, according to police.
“The driver of the vehicle yelled several times to the officers, ‘Stop him he has a gun’. Because Dustin was not complying with the officers’ commands, continuing to walk away from them, and because they had been told that he was still armed, the department’s K-9 was deployed as a less-lethal attempt to stop him. The K-9 was unsuccessful,” police said in the news release.
Officers then attempted to take Booth into custody. That is when he brought his hands down and pulled a handgun from the area of his waistline. This caused several officers to fire their weapons striking him multiple times, police said.
Booth’s family, through attorney Konrad Kircher, released a statement last week stating they have many unanswered questions about Booth’s death.
“Among those are the following: Why was it so hard to get help for Dustin? And why did the police organize a plan to take him into custody and then kill him, knowing he was mentally ill?,” according to the family statement.
After the release of the body cam videos, Kircher said the family remained “baffled” by the incident.
“The video raises so many questions. Dustin was walking casually, not running. The gun was not exposed until the police escalated into violence,” said Konrad Kircher, the family’s attorney.
Kircher said Monroe officers made three visits to the Booth residence within 10 days, “during which the police learned Dustin was mentally ill (and some officers knew him personally before that first visit and knew he was a good man). Why did they force a confrontation with him on a public road?.”
The family is “totally baffled” by the actions of the canine officer, according to Kircher.
“After the dog attack, the officer ran toward Dustin, who had his hands up, and tried to wrestle him to the ground. Before the officer grabbed him, Dustin said, ‘Listen to me, I don’t want to hurt nobody.’ Why did the police escalate the confrontation when a crisis intervention person could have talked to Dustin?,” Kircher questioned.
Dustin Booth was the father of two sons. His family said he was a great husband and father and coached the boys in multiple youth sports leagues, according to the statement from the attorney. Booth worked for Cleveland Cliffs for 13 years and he had a side business power washing and cleaning the exterior of homes.
He had no criminal record.
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