No indictment for Brown Co. deputies connected to inmate's death - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

No indictment for Brown Co. deputies connected to inmate's death

Goldson, 24. (File photo) Goldson, 24. (File photo)

A grand jury has decided not to indict Brown County deputies in connection to the death of inmate Zachary Goldson, officials announced on Thursday.

The coroner and sheriff's department have been at odds over the cause of death since the October 2013 incident. Brown County deputies claimed Goldson hanged himself with a sheet inside his cell, but Coroner Judith Varnau ruled the death a homicide by strangulation.

"They are very relieved. I mean when you are talking about a small knit family and all the accusations come out that they are murderers and things like that,” said Brown County Sheriff Dwayne Wenninger.

In their final report, grand jury members cite an autopsy performed by the Montgomery County Coroner's office that states marks on Goldson's body were consistent with a suicide.

In addition to the autopsy findings, jury members looked at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation's probe into the case, heard witness testimony and visited the Brown County Jail in their evidence reviews, according to the report.

That report also claims there was evidence Goldson had previously hinted at harming himself.

“Two close associates interviewed stated their belief that Goldson's assault on the deputy was not an attempt to escape but an attempted ‘suicide by cop,'” the report states.

“He had some disturbing issues but as far as he was examined by three different physicians and not one of them ever said he needed to be on suicide watch,” said Sheriff Wenninger. "He wasn't threatening himself. He was in my opinion looking for attention."

The Ohio Attorney General's Office turned the case over to a special prosecutor in July before sending it in November to a Grand Jury.

[Related: Grand jury begins hearing evidence in death of Brown County inmate]

Varnau issued this statement regarding the Grand Jury decision Thursday:

It would be unfair and speculative to comment on why a grand jury does or does not choose to indict someone. As in the Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, cases, they have their reasons and the failure to do so only means they chose not to do so, not why. It is not the Coroner's role to seek or not seek indictments, that is up to law enforcement, and this decision does not affect the Coroner's office or any of the current court cases.

As for the threats by deputies to Goldson that were caught on dash cam video, Sheriff Wenninger said the deputies regret those remarks.

“If one of your family members was getting the hell beat out of them and he or she was fighting for his life, there would be some comments and they do regret that and I will take care of that as an internal matter,” said Wenninger.

Tune in FOX19 NOW at 6:30 p.m. for the full story by Lisa Hutson. 

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