2021 in Review | Legal & Law Enforcement
- Published: January 8, 2022
In July, Yellow Springs native Zyrian Atha-Arnett, accused in the stabbing death of Leonid “Lonya” Clark, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter as part of a plea deal with the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office. Atha-Arnett also pleaded guilty to separate charges of abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence related to the Jan. 13, 2019, killing of his friend and former classmate.
Atha-Arnett was sentenced to 11 years on the involuntary manslaughter charge, 36 months for abuse of a corpse and 12 months for tampering with evidence, to be served consecutively for a total of 15 years and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution. Atha-Arnett also pleaded guilty to 10 counts of child pornography charges. He was sentenced to 18 months on each count, to be served concurrently with the 15 years tied to Clark’s death.
Carlson resigns, Burge acting chief
In August, Chief Brian Carlson resigned from the Village police department, saying the resignation was a personal decision he made alongside his wife. Carlson had been with the department since 2010, serving as chief for the last five years. He said that implementing a “social justice plan” for policing, adding a social worker to the department and starting more bike and foot patrols were among his biggest accomplishments during his tenure as chief.
Carlson’s last day as chief was Nov. 12; that day, Village Manager Josué Salmerón appointed recently promoted Sgt. Paige Burge as acting chief until a new full-time chief is found. The appointment allowed more time for the police chief search committee to find a chief who is in line with the village’s values, according to Salmerón. Burge has been with YSPD since 2019, when she joined as a foot patrol officer. She was promoted to sergeant in August after the departure of Naomi Watson. Hailing from Fairborn, Burge will be YSPD’s first female and LGBTQ+ chief.
Jail levy voted down again
In November, Greene County voters rejected Issue 1, a proposal from the Greene County Board of Commissioners to increase the county sales tax by .25% to build a new jail, with 13,334 voting against the measure and 10,807 approving it. The result is in part a victory for members of the Greene County Coalition for Compassionate Justice, who campaigned against the proposal. A similar levy was also voted down in 2020.
Sheriff Gene Fischer dies
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer died unexpectedly on Nov. 16. Fischer had been attending an Ohio sheriff’s convention in Sandusky where he suffered a “medical emergency.” Fischer, 65, was first appointed sheriff in 2003 and returned to office by county voters in subsequent elections. Prior to his tenure as sheriff, Fischer served 20 years as a Xenia police officer.
CRB talks continue
In December, Council voted to approve the allocation of $15,000 for the establishment of a village citizen review board, or CRB, which would address police misconduct. The funds will cover the cost of establishing the CRB in 2022. Details such as the size, scope, policies and procedures of the proposed CRB are still being discussed
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