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Greene County sheriff major relieved of job

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Greene County Sheriff Major Eric Spicer was relieved from his position with the department last week, according to Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer this week. Spicer was one of the commanders involved in the shooting standoff that occurred in Yellow Springs on July 30 that ended with the death of villager Paul Schenck. He had been placed on paid leave since that time.

Fischer declined to comment on the reasons Spicer is no longer with the department, saying that Spicer was an unclassified employee whose employment can be terminated without reason. The sheriff’s decision, however, followed the late February release of a Montgomery County Sheriff’s procedural investigation of Greene County’s response to the shooting. The report of the Montgomery County investigation is forthcoming.

On the night of the shooting, the Greene County Sheriff and combined SWAT teams mounted a response to shots fired by Schenck that involved 63 officers from 17 law enforcement agencies. During the all-night standoff, in which Schenck was killed by an officer at his home at 300 North High Street, Spicer fired one round in response to what he believed was muzzle flash, a subsequent report from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation found. Later that night, Spicer led a group of officers to an incorrect address, where he believed Schenck was located. After two hours, Spicer then led an attempt to enter the house. According to the BCI report, the mistake alarmed the resident, who believed someone was trying to break in, and set off a series of miscommunications that caused law enforcement to believe incorrectly that Schenck was “possibly mobile and shooting randomly in the neighborhood from various locations.”

Spicer’s six-month paid leave was routine after an incident of that magnitude, Fisher said. Greene County Sheriff Deputy James Hughes, identified as having shot and killed Schenck, was also placed on paid leave after the incident. Hughes was cleared of any wrongdoing by a Greene County Grand Jury in December.

In a written statement last week, according to WHIO, Spicer stated that he had been with the Sheriff’s department for 10 years and hoped to be able to return to work there. According to a report this week from WYSO, Spicer retained a lawyer to challenge his termination. As of Tuesday, Fischer said he had no knowledge of legal action taken against the sheriff’s department.

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