NEW INFO: No Grand Jury Indictment In Dragging Death; Autopsy Results

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THURSDAY 5/8 UPDATE

IRONTON, Ohio (WSAZ)--A medical examiner could not determine the exact cause of death for the man found dead underneath an Ironton Police Car.

According to a published report, the Franklin County Deputy Coroner said autopsy results could not determine if Guy Thomas was dead or live when the police car made contact with him

Former Ironton Police Officer Rich Fouts found Thomas dead underneath his cruiser back March. Investigators said Thomas had been dragged 10 blocks under the car when was found dead.

According to the report, blood tests showed that Thomas has a blood alcohol lever of .33.
The report also says that Thomas had a bleeding injury to his tongue which the coroner says is consistent with a history of seizures.

The autopsy report also found that Thomas has numerous injuries to his body, some of which could have occurred prior to his death.

Earlier, investigators said there was no evidence that Thomas was hit by the police car. They said it was likely Thomas was lying in the road when the car made contact with him.

A Lawrence County Grand jury heard the case on Monday, but did not indict anyone.

Fouts resigned from the police department last month.

TUESDAY 5/6 UPDATE
IRONTON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A Lawrence County, Ohio, grand jury has decided to not indict a former Ironton Police Officer accused in a dragging death.

Police say 45-year-old Guy Thomas was found dead underneath an Ironton, Ohio, police car back in March.

Investigators say Thomas had been dragged about 10 blocks before being found dead.

The officer involved in the incident, Rich Fouts resigned in early April.

We're told the grand jury met for about 4 hours on Monday, but did not find enough evidence to return an indictment.



CONTINUING COVERAGE
THURSDAY 4/10 UPDATE
IRONTON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The Ironton Police Chief announced Thursday that Rich Fouts has resigned from the police department.

Chief James Carey says Fouts turned in his letter of resignation on Wednesday. The resignation takes effect on Friday.

The chief also announced that back on March 25, Fouts' status with the department changed from administrative leave with pay to without pay.

Stay with WSAZ.com for the latest information.



FRIDAY 3/28 UPDATE
IRONTON,Ohio (WSAZ) -- A report in the Ironton newspaper says Guy Thomas likely died of asphyxiation.

Prosecutor J.B. Collier also told the paper that Thomas’s chest with crushed. Collier says a BCI investigator theorized that could have happened when the police cruiser pulled into the parking lot.

Lawrence County Prosecutor says he will turn the matter over to a grand jury that will determine what, if any charges will be filed against the driver of the cruiser, Patrolman Richard Fouts.

Fouts is on paid administrative leave.



MONDAY 3/24 UPDATE
The state investigation into this situation is now in the hands of the local prosecutor.

Prosecutor J.B. Collier says it make take weeks to get the blood work and medical history back on Guy Thomas.

The prosecutor says when the report is complete, he will present it to an independent grand jury and let them decide on a range of outcomes, from a possible charge of vehicular homicide to no fault at all.

WEDNESDAY 3/19 UPDATE

IRONTON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The Ironton Ohio Police department announced Wednesday that drug and alcohol tests performed on Officer Richard Fouts were negative.

The press release from Chief Jim Casey also says that it's the understanding of the Ironton Police Department that the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) has completed its investigation and that the results will be turned over to the Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney on Monday.



WEDNESDAY 3/12 - 11AM UPDATE

The Lawrence County, OH Coroner says preliminary autopsy results are inconclusive on the cause of death of an Ironton man.

46-year old Guy Thomas was found dead underneath an Ironton, OH police cruiser Saturday night. The autopsy was performed in Columbus, Oh on Tuesday.

Burton Payne told wasz.com that those results show there were no injuries consistent with an impact by the cruiser or by getting run over by a tire.

Payne also says there were burns on the body from the cruiser exhaust, and abrasions from the body being dragged.

The coroner says Mr. Thomas’ family told him the victim had a history of seizures.

Payne says results still are inconclusive to determine if Mr. Thomas was dead or alive when he came in contact with the cruiser.

He says there is some evidence that the burns on Mr. Thomas’ body happened after he was dead.

Payne says lab results and blood tests regarding any possibility of any intoxicants in Mr. Thomas’ body are still pending.

Also released today, a report from the Ohio Highway Patrol on their inspection of the police cruiser immediately following the accident.

Trooper John Canter wrote in that report that after he and other officers inspected the Ironton police cruiser they found “no visible damage to it. This included the front, both sides and rear. We found the dirt on the sides and rear of the vehicle didn’t appear to be disturbed. It was also found that the snow, ice and dirt on the front of the cruiser was not disturbed.”

During the inspection, officers also found “a small blue fiber attached to the underside of the push bumper, attached to the front bumper.” They said the fiber was on the right side of that push bumper.

Canter ended the report by saying that after he and other investigators discussed the lack of damage, they concurred the “pedestrian must have been down on the roadway and not standing or in a kneeling position when struck.”



MONDAY 3/10 - 2PM UPDATE

Ironton Police have released more information on the death of man hit by a city police cruiser Saturday night.

During a Monday afternoon press conference, Chief Jim Carey says the victim is 46-year old Guy Thomas of Ironton. Carey says the officer involved in the incident is 27-year old Patrolman Richard Fouts.

Carey says Fouts has been with the department for about 2 months. Fouts is currently on administrative leave with pay. The chief say Fouts came to Ironton from the Dayton-Xenia area.

Carey says the autopsy on Thomas’s body is scheduled for Tuesday morning. Right now, they do not know if Thomas was alive or dead when he was hit. His body was found under the rear bumper.

The chief says Thomas’s wife was told of her husband’s death several hours after the incident.



SUNDAY 3/9 - 6PM UPDATE

A family in Ironton is trying to cope tonight with the loss one of their relatives. They say he died when a police cruiser hit him as he walked across the street.

Right now, the Ohio Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case, but there are more questions than answers for family members of the victim.

"We can't even grieve for him, because we want his rights. He respected everybody, and he should be treated with dignity and respect."

LouVerne Miller says her nephew, Guy Thomas, was one block away from home when he was hit by a police officer driving to work.

"And why hasn't anyone told the family,” said Miller. “Why haven't we gotten a chance to go ID him? Usually, if there is a murder or anything, they want someone to ID a body."

Ironton police have not publicly identified the body, and the family says they have not heard from police.

"Even if it was an accident, tell the truth,” said Miller. “Just let us know what happened. I can't understand the suspense. All we want to know is what happened to him."

Leaving the family with questions, and picking up the pieces.

According to police, he was hit on 9th Street and Jefferson. His family found his wallet and a shoe on 7th Street and Washington, and police say he wasn't discovered until the officer reached the station on South 3rd Street.

"We had an Ironton Police officer in an Ironton cruiser, involved in a pedestrian fatality accident,” said Jim Carey, Ironton Police Chief. “It appears to just be an accident involving a vehicle and a pedestrian."

Leaving others concerned about what exactly happened…

"They haven't even come to talk to the family,” said John Sudderth, one of the victim’s family members. “What does that tell you? They haven't even come to the family. Are they trying to hide something? Come on forward and let the family know exactly what happened here."

A family…searching for answers and closure.

According to Google maps, the quickest distance from where Thomas was hit, to the police station, is just over half a mile.

Right now, Ironton Police Chief Jim Carey says an independent group is doing an investigation to try to figure out what happened. And the officer who Carey says was involved in the accident is on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.



ORIGINAL STORY

IRONTON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Ironton's police chief tells WSAZ.com one of his officers hit a pedestrian.

A relative tells WSAZ the victim was Guy Thomas. He was 46 years old. The navy veteran was leaving the American Legion Saturday night when he got hit by the police car and dragged from 9th street to 7th street.

Police Chief Jim Carey tells WSAZ.com that they have not released the name of the victim. They have contacted the Ohio Bureau of Investigations and asked them to conduct an independent investigation.

We're told the Ironton officer involved will also be placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 3 and WSAZ.com for more information.



 
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