CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WCMH) — A family is demanding answers after a call for help landed their loved one in the hospital and led to a state law enforcement investigation.
Angela Pariscoff got the call Thursday that her stepfather had shot himself. She rushed to her mother’s home near Chillicothe.
Law enforcement was there. Pariscoff said she heard four gunshots coming from inside the home and was initially told that her stepfather was dead.
The man, whose name has not been released by Ross County deputies, is alive and recovering at a hospital. His family said they’ve been unable to speak to him directly because he has been placed on a psychiatric hold.
“As far as I know, he’s going to make it and he’s not in critical condition,” Pariscoff told NBC4.
The incident started with a 911 call from a family member inside the home after the man said he’d shot himself. That family member said she told dispatchers the man still had the gun.
When deputies arrive at the home, the family member can be seen in body-worn camera footage directing them toward a storage room, where the man is lying on the floor and facing a wall.
The deputies see the gun and command the man at least 14 times to put it down. The deputies can be seen raising their firearms until one of the deputies swaps her firearm for her stun gun.
The other deputy then tells the man, “Do not let go of that gun.”
“I’m not letting go,” the man replies before the deputy corrects himself.
“No, let go of that gun!”
The female deputy fires her stun gun, and several gunshots follow.
Deputies said immediately after the incident that the subject fired first. It is not clear how many of the gunshots came from the deputy’s firearm, or how many — if any — hit the man on the floor.
The footage of the incident also raises questions about the female deputy’s use of the stun gun.
Mark Meredith, a police practices expert who testifies in use-of-force cases, said it is generally unsafe to use a stun gun when a subject has a firearm.
Meredith was unable to comment on the Ross County incident specifically but was able to speak generally about best practices among law enforcement.
“Gaining compliance with people who are actively aggressive is generally what (stun guns) should be used for,” Meredith said. “There could be other circumstances, but it should be used for people who are actively aggressive towards officers or others.”
Meredith also said verbal commands should be given in most circumstances before a stun gun is deployed unless an officer does not have time to give the warning before protecting themselves and others.
After the shots were fired, the deputy who deployed the stun gun can be seen holding it in one hand, and her firearm in the other.
“We generally try to avoid having two different weapons in your hand so you don’t — in the heat of the moment — you don’t confuse which one you mean to fire,” Meredith said.
The Ross County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to multiple attempts to reach them with questions following Friday’s release of the body-worn camera footage.
Pariscoff and her family are also left with questions of their own.
“If you can’t call for help, and get that help from your local, you know, police, what do you do? Where do you go? You’re at a loss,” she said.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is looking into the incident.
Meredith reminded said it’s important for the public to be patient following the release of body-worn camera footage, while investigators weigh all of the facts.
“You have to understand that there may be information behind the camera that isn’t necessarily giving you the totality of the circumstance,” Meredith said.
The Ross County Sheriff’s Office did not release the names of either deputy involved, nor did they provide a reason for why they redacted the names.