WEST CHESTER TWP., Ohio (FOX19) - The night RV Nation owner Jeffrey Couch was arrested and charged with violently attacking his wife, he name-dropped the police chief and other top law enforcement officials, according to police body camera video released Friday to FOX19 NOW.
The footage shows the encounter West Chester Township police had with Couch on March 2, 2019, when they arrived at his home in the gated Wetherington country club/golf course subdivision off Tylersville Road near Interstate 75. They responded to reports his wife was screaming.
Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser has said the couple fought in their driveway after a night of drinking, and Couch snapped.
His wife told West Chester police he punched her in the face multiple times and “slammed her head" onto a paved driveway multiple times causing serious physical harm,” according to a copy of a criminal complaint.
In just a pair of shorts and no shirt, the video shows Couch answering the door for officers.
Friends of Couch’s wife took her to a hospital, and police were told at the scene it was “major domestic violence" and that his wife was “bleeding all over the place. Her face is destroyed. Yeah, really bad.”
Officer: "You home alone?"
Officer: "Do you have a wife?"
Couch: "Uh, I think she's somewhere."
Officer: "OK. Does she have a pink purse?"
Officer: "OK. Why is her stuff out there?"
Couch: "What's that?"
Officer: "Why is her stuff out there?"
Couch: “I have no clue.”
After police took Couch into custody, he started name-dropping the police chief, Joel Herzog, and eventually Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones and one of Jones’ top commanders, Major Mike Craft, according to the body cam video.
Couch: "How about you call Joel?"
Officer: “I already, I already did. I talked to him and let him know. He said, ‘OK.’ He just said, ‘Thanks for calling and just take care of business.’”
Couch also told police what he thinks should happen to him, the footage shows: “I probably should go to jail. I am just saying she thinks I am a whatever? I am just telling you I need to talk to someone to tell them we got into an argument. It wasn’t good. She’s fine. I’m fine.”
Couch was indicted on two counts of felonious assault and one count each of attempted felonious assault and misdemeanor domestic violence.
While Couch was locked up at the Butler County Jail after his arrest, West Chester’s police chief asked a high-ranking official at the Butler County Sheriff’s Office to visit Couch “as a friend” at the jail, the sheriff told FOX19 NOW last year.
Sheriff Jones said the request surprised him. He didn’t permit it and alerted the prosecutor.
Gmoser said West Chester police conducted a “complete and professional investigation." Then he took the case directly to a grand jury to ensure transparency.
RELATED | Sheriff: 'I refused’ police chief’s ‘inappropriate’ request to visit Butler Co business owner in jail ‘as a friend’ | Butler County RV business owner indicted on 3 felonies in alleged violent attack on wife | Court docs: Butler Co business owner slammed wife’s head 'onto a paved driveway multiple times
There were ultimately several delays in the case, most recently when four judges presiding over it recused themselves.
The judges provided no reason for recusing themselves and are not required to.
If the case had gone to trial, the jury was expected to hear an audio recording of the attack and of his wife’s screams. It was recorded by Couch’s neighbor after hearing what was going on through a bedroom window, court records show.,
Last month, Couch pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated assault. All the other charges were dismissed.
Couch was permitted to move back into his home before sentencing later this month.
Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Oster Jr. ordered him to wear an electronic monitoring device on his ankle only to detect if alcohol was in his system.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 24.
Prosecutors have said they are not asking for jail time and that Couch has completed alcohol and anger management classes.
We reached Couch’s attorney, Scott Croswell, for comment on his behalf Friday night regarding the body camera footage and name-dropping.
“I have no idea what’s new on it and it seems to be piling on for the purpose of sensationalizing the story and building ratings," Croswell said.
FOX19 NOW routinely views body camera footage, particularly in high-profile arrests.
West Chester police initially declined to release the video in response to our public records request even though they had given it to another media outlet earlier this week and it was shown on television.
“The records that you have requested are not available to release at this time, as the case is still pending final sentencing and adjudication. The video released yesterday was in error; it should not have been released,” wrote Jeanni Quinn, records supervisor at the West Chester Police Department, in an email to FOX19 NOW.
“I will forward you the responsive public records as soon as the case is complete. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.”
A FOX19 NOW attorney responded in writing Friday that the body camera footage was public record because Couch already had been convicted and, moreover, the police department essentially made it a public record by releasing it.
Early Friday evening, the police chief wrote back that he’d changed his mind.
“I have reviewed the letter from (FOX19 NOW attorney) and the court cases provided were reviewed. Even though the sentencing of Mr. Couch has not occurred, their argument for release of the video due to the fact that we inadvertently released it to (another media outlet) will be honored.”