Fails: ‘Body cams now’

LIMA — Leaders from the Lima NAACP on Thursday repeated calls for the Allen County Sheriff’s Office to equip its deputies with body worn cameras in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Quincy J. Pritchett, who was shot and killed by sheriff’s Deputy Izak Ackerman after fleeing a traffic stop in June.

A special grand jury decided last Friday that Ackerman, who was injured during the altercation, was justified in using lethal force against Pritchett.

“We need body cameras and we need them now,” NAACP Lima President Ronald Fails said on Thursday.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which investigated the shooting at the request of the sheriff’s office, released a redacted version of its inquiry Monday.

The state’s findings seemingly support initial law enforcement accounts that Pritchett reportedly shot at Ackerman, striking him in the face and his bulletproof vest before he was fatally shot by Ackerman.

But NAACP leaders on Thursday said the lack of video evidence leaves too much room for doubt, citing mistrust after a jury did not convict the officer who fatally shot Tarika Wilson in 2008.

“This is the reason why you need body cameras, because then it takes the mystery and the (suspicion) out of it,” Fails said. “And in the absence of it, you got all these conspiracy theories occurring.”

The civil rights group intends to file a complaint with the Allen County commissioners to provide funding for the sheriff’s office to purchase body cameras, Fails said. Separate complaints may be filed with the Ohio attorney general and U.S. Department of Justice, he said.

Sheriff Matthew Treglia has expressed concerns in the past about the expense of operating equipment and “loopholes” in public records laws for body worn cameras.

The sheriff’s office released a statement in July reiterating its position, stating that while the department “continually looks into” the matter “the sheriff’s opinion has not changed due to his concern for the citizens’ rights to privacy in their own homes.”

“Our administration continues to keep a watchful eye on legislation and until such time individuals are guaranteed a right to privacy in their own homes without exception other than court proceedings, our stance remains the same,” the statement read.

The sheriff’s office, which has declined to answer questions about the incident while the BCI inquiry was underway, is expected to hold a press conference Friday to discuss the incident after a mandatory internal review was completed earlier this week.