Knox County Grand Jury issues no bill in death of man in sheriff’s custody

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KNOX COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) – The Knox County Grand Jury issued no bill in the investigation of the death of David Levi Dehmann following a confrontation with a Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy in April at the county jail.

Dehmann, 33, was confronted by Mount Vernon police twice on April 21 for alleged drinking and disorderly conduct.

The incident report from the first call states, “…there was a little bit of blood on his left side of his face.”  Where Dehmann admitted “…he had hit his head.”

The second time police were called Dehmann was arrested for “disorderly conduct.”

The video from the police cruiser shows Dehmann almost calm as he’s placed in the back seat after his arrest, but on the ride to jail, Dehmann appears to become increasingly belligerent.

He is seen pounding on the Plexiglass and spitting on the window.

When Dehmann arrives at the Knox County Jail, the situation quickly escalates.

As he’s being processed in the hall Dehmann appears to resist, and then he takes a swing at a Deputy Chase Wright.

Wright reacts, slamming Dehmann to the cement floor.

In the incident report, the move is called “..a take-down hold.”

It wasn’t long before everyone knew something was wrong, because Dehmann was not moving.

Within minutes Mount Vernon medics arrive to rush him to the hospital. Two days later, Dehmann died.

The full statement from the sheriff’s office follows:

Mr. Dehmann’s death was investigated by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

The Grand Jury heard four and a half hours of testimony and conducted a tour of the Knox County Jail as part of its deliberations.

Recent news coverage has centered around the use of a “take-down” by Deputy Sheriff Chase Wright to control Mr. Dehmann in a confrontation at the jail, Knox County Prosecuting Attorney Chip McConville said.

Video footage from the jail has been widely circulated by news media and internet outlets. After a review of the video footage and after hearing testimony from a variety of witnesses, the Grand Jury concluded that Deputy Wright’s use of force was reasonable under the circumstances. Dehmann was aggressive with MVPD officers as well as sheriff’s deputies. As a result, he will face no criminal charges stemming from the incident.

A Knox County Sheriff’s Office review of the incident is ongoing.

“I would like to thank the Bureau of Criminal Investigation for their highly professional outside investigation of this tragic incident,” McConville said.

Their report, which will be released in response to public records requests once it is reviewed for redaction, provides perspective on some claims that have been widely circulated in various social media outlets, he said.  BCI’s investigation contradicts claims that Mr. Dehmann had an autism diagnosis which could have affected his perceptions of jail staff behavior. The investigation also provides insight that Mr. Dehmann was highly intoxicated at the time of the incident, while also taking prescribed blood thinners. These led to him being more susceptible to bleeding from any injuries he sustained.

These reports, in conjunction with police reports that document Mr. Dehmann having fallen prior to being taken to jail make it very difficult to say that the incident at the jail was the cause of his death, McConville said. The report of the Franklin County Coroner, whose office performed Mr. Dehmann’s autopsy, listed his cause of death as “undetermined.”

“All uses of force by police officers are under strong scrutiny these days,” McConville said. “That is why I presented this case to our Grand Jury for a citizen review.  Mr. Dehmann’s untimely death was tragic for everyone involved. But the Grand Jury’s determination means it was not caused by a criminal act.”

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