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Columbus Police Clear Two Officers In Fatal Shooting Of Kareem Jones

Columbus Police body camera footage
Body camera footage from Columbus Police shows Kareem Jones reaching toward his waistband before officers fired shots.

Columbus Police have cleared two officers of wrongdoing in last summer's shooting death of Kareem Ali Nadir Jones.

An investigation by the police review board found that Officers Samuel James and Marc Johnson acted within the department's use of force policy when they shot Jones in a Franklinton backyard.

The incident was the department's first officer-involved shooting caught on body camera. On the evening of July 7, 2017, the officers were patrolling the area of 84 Schultz Avenue when they reported seeing 30 year-old Jones walking between cars “with erratic behavior.”

A woman in the neighborhood had reported several kids throwing rocks at her car. Her sister's boyfriend, Jones, was walking the neighborhood looking for the kids when police encountered him in a backyard.

After a brief conversation, the officers say they felt threatened and that Jones did not follow their commands to get on the ground. Body camera footage shows Jones reaching behind his back toward his waistband, at which point both officers fired at him. Jones died three days later.

The video contains no audio until after the shooting, when one officer says, “There’s the gun over there.” A press release from Columbus Police says officers found a Glock 9mm at the scene, and “DNA testing confirmed that the DNA of Jones was on the weapon.”

Jones family members questioned why officers did not use a taser instead of lethal force. The family filed a federal lawsuit against Columbus Police claiming the department’s practices and policies allow for unreasonable force.  That lawsuit continues through the courts.

In March, a Franklin County grand jury declined to file an indictment against James and Johnson.

All police-involved shooting cases are referred to grand juries in Franklin County. In the two decades Ron O'Brien has served as county prosecutor, no police officer has been indicted for shooting a civilian.