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Attorney General DeWine Announces Conclusion of Yellow Springs Investigation

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Click here to read about Attorney General Mike Dewine’s press conference this morning on the investigation of the shooting death of Paul E. Schenck.

DeWine Calls for Review of Ohio’s Mental Health System

(YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) has completed its investigation into the July officer-involved shooting death of a Village resident.

Special agents with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation were requested to investigate the incident at the request of Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer and Yellow Springs Police Chief Tony Pettiford.

BCI special agent investigators found that Paul E. Schenck, 42, was shot and killed by a member of the Greene County Regional SWAT Team several hours after two Yellow Springs Police officers responded to his 280 North High Street home to investigate the call of a domestic dispute on July 30, 2013.   Schenck was found to have fired at least 191 shots out of the home, several of which hit neighboring houses and law enforcement vehicles. The investigation also found that Schenck was suffering from a mental illness.

Prosecutors with Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section will now present the investigation’s findings to a Greene County Grand Jury at the request of Greene County Prosecutor Steve Haller.

“BCI special agents handed the results of the investigation into the death of Paul E. Schenck over to Prosecutor Haller late last week, and at that time he requested that my office handle the grand jury proceedings in addition to the investigation,” said DeWine.  “It will now be up to members of the grand jury to decide if the evidence shows criminal misconduct or a justifiable shooting.”

“This case, while tragic, is not unusual in the fact that there are many Ohioans who are suffering from mental illness, and in need of more treatment options,” said Attorney General DeWine. “To quote Terry Russell of NAMI Ohio, ‘the system is broken for the sickest of the sick.’”

“There is not enough money and the current law makes it difficult for parents of adult children with mental illness to force hospitalizations and treatments,” DeWine added.

DeWine noted that earlier this year, Ohio State Senators Burke and Tavares introduced legislation — SB 43 — that would clarify that a county probate court may order someone who is a threat to themselves or others to receive mandatory outpatient treatment.  As it is now, judges typically either don’t order the person to the hospital for lack of adequate space, or when they do, the person stays an average of only 11 days.  This legislation would also eliminate the ambiguity in existing law with regard to the conditions under which a person is considered a mentally ill person subject to court ordered treatment.  Currently the bill is in the Senate Civil Justice Committee.

In addition, it has been 25 years since the Ohio General Assembly enacted sweeping reforms by passing the Mental Health Act of Ohio. Today Attorney General DeWine posed the following, “Perhaps it is time to call for a comprehensive, independent study of Ohio’s mental health system to see what is working, what isn’t working and how can we do better?”

Attorney General DeWine’s full statement regarding BCI’s findings (PDF) is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

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