Deputy-involved shooting ‘justified,’ Prosecutor says

An officer-involved shooting in Ross Township earlier this year is justified and no charges...
An officer-involved shooting in Ross Township earlier this year is justified and no charges will be filed against any law enforcement official, Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser announced Friday.(WXIX)
Published: Jun. 18, 2021 at 9:40 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 12:28 PM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - An independent review of a police-involved shooting in Ross Township earlier this year determined the use of force was “justified,” Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser announced Friday.

A Butler County grand jury recently reviewed all evidence and declined to issue an indictment against any law enforcement officials.

An acting detective with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office shot and wounded a man May 10 as federal and sheriff’s officials executed a search warrant for child pornography, sheriff’s officials said at the time.

Alex Hoskins, 26, pointed a handgun at Detective Ricky Phillips about 12:30 p.m. in the 4200 block of Jennifer Drive in Ross Township, and Phillips shot the suspect in the chest “to eliminate the threat,” according to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

Authorities performed life-saving measures on Hoskins at the scene. First responders then transported Hoskins to Fort Hamilton Hughes Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Hoskins is held at the Warren County Jail on one count of felonious assault and three counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.

According to the sheriff’s office, Hoskins confessed in an interview to possessing child porn as well as sending and receiving child porn images and videos.

During the interview, authorities discovered Hoskins believed he was under investigation and prepared for a confrontation with investigators by recently purchasing a firearm, according to the sheriff’s office.

Jones said Hoskins told Phillips wanted to die “suicide by cop.”

Gmoser concurred on Friday, writing in a news release “the subject of the search warrant confronted officers with lethal force by pointing a loaded pistol at them for the stated purpose of eliciting a lethal response - “suicide by cop.

“He was immediately shot once by a sheriff’s deputy to eliminate the threat.”

The acting detective who shot Hoskins was not hurt and was placed on paid leave during the investigation, which is standard. He’s been with the sheriff’s office eight years.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said he was not surprised by the outcome of the independent investigation.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office usually investigates its own deputy-involved shootings.

This was the first time Jones asked Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to come in.

Once BCI’s investigation was complete, they submitted it to the county prosecutor’s office for presentation to the grand jury. The case is now closed, BCI spokesman Steven Irwin said Friday.

Sheriff Jones said their findings were “right on. I already knew that, not from the grand jury and BCI, but by our investigation and the facts that we knew from the crime scene and the suspect himself. I agree with the prosecutor whole-heartedly. BCI did an excellent job and they did it in a timely manner. It’s a great organization to work with.

“Police officers don’t have to be shot first to return fire. If you point a gun at the police, they can and will shoot you. They don’t have to be shot first or duck and then return fire.”

Jones said he chose to ask the BCI to investigate this case because the acting detective who shot Hoskins also shot another armed suspect, in January, during a SWAT standoff.

Phillips killed Junius Thomas, 31, during a Jan. 11 standoff in the 6800 block of Yoakum Court in Liberty Township.

Thomas pointed his gun toward Phillips and SWAT team members, Jones told FOX19 NOW at the time.

A Butler County grand jury recently reviewed all evidence and also declined to issue an indictment.

BCI investigating all police involved shootings is among several proposed statewide police reforms from Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, whose office runs BCI.

Jones isn’t on board with that.

He said the sheriff’s office will decide if an outside review is necessary on a case-by-case basis.

“We’ll probably do all of our own unless there are special circumstances,” said Jones, the county’s sheriff since 2005.

“We are capable of doing them ourselves, like most police agencies. Most of them all do their own. We are not different than they are. Very capable and very respected.

“People respect our cases and our investigations and the public is comfortable with that. So is the grand jury.”

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