Mother Of Victim In Police Shooting Seeks 'Criminal Justice.'
A veteran Columbus Police officer awaits possible in-house discipline after a Franklin County grand jury found insufficient evidence for criminal charges in a police-involved shooting. But, the mother of the victim vows to push for some kind of "criminal prosecution" of the officer.
Four months ago, on the night of June 6th, Elaine Hayes of New Orleans, was talking by telephone to the youngest of her three sons here in Columbus.
"They were on Mount Vernon Avenue and they were socializing with some young ladies. I can hear that over the phone." Says Hayes.
The conversation lasted only a few minutes.
"My youngest son, Dwayne asked me, he said: well, here I'm going to let you speak to Edward. And I was like, no I'll talk to you all later because I see you're all busy. And we hung the phone up. That's the biggest mistake I ever made because I didn't get to talk to my child that night." Says Elaine Hayes.
Later that evening, 31 year old Edward Hayes was fatally shot by Columbus Police officer Fredrick Hannah near the intersection of Mount Vernon Avenue and Westpot Drive. Police reports say officers suspected drug activity and were working as part of a summer strike force to blunt crime when they approached a car occupied by Hayes and three other men. The men fled in four different directions. According to a coroner's report, Edward Hayes was shot in the back. Prosecutor Ron O'Brien says three handguns were recovered at the scene. One contained Edward Hayes' D-N-A. Elaine Hayes says though, she doubts her son Edward was involved in drug activity.
"They just seen four young black men in a car and they decided to stop them. That's my belief, because if that's not the truth then they need to kind of elaborate on why they thought it was a drug transaction." Elaine Hayes calls the grand jury's return of no indictment a "straight-up cover-up." Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien denies the charge.
"Certainly any cover-up was not done by this office. The grand jury had all the information available to them. So I don't know there could be a basis to make that claim." Says O'Brien.
Normally, a grand jury hears only prosecution witnesses and then jurors decide whether there's sufficient evidence to indict an individual. In this case, O'Brien says, the wtiness list was expanded.
"Yes, in these kinds of cases we call all the witnesses that are available including witnesses that have made public statements at least that they thought the shooting was unjustified. And, all the witnesses on both sides or all sides are called at a grand jury inquiry like this." After hearing the case, grand jurors returned what's called a "No Bill." In a press release, Prosecutor O'Brien summarized the case: "No indictment filed. Justified shooting." He says "certainly the fact that there was a gun that was found and discarded on the path of flight by Mr.Hayes that had his DNA on it, that at least supported the statement of the officer that when Mr.Hayes jumped out of the car they were approaching, he displayed a hand gun." O'Brien says the grand jury's decision means officer Fredrick Hannah will not face criminal charges. Hayes' mother, Elaine, says she'll still seek prosecution of the case.
"You know, I think that I'm going to try....I want to do something on the criminal level. That's what I'm really seeking. I'm seeking justice, criminal justice, because I just don't think my son should have died like that. I don't think that its O-K to shoot a person in the back that's running away from you. I just don't think that that's O-K." Says Hayes.
Officer Fredrick Hannah faces possible departmental discipline. Police spokeswoman Amanda Ford says the Internal Affairs investigation could take two to three months.
Tom Borgerding WOSU News.