5 Middletown police officers cleared after investigation

Following an external investigation and presentation to a Butler County grand jury, five Middletown police officers involved in last month’s shooting on Park Lane have been cleared to return to work, according to police Chief David Birk and county Prosecutor Michael Gmoser.

The man who was shot by officers on April 24 at Olde Towne apartment complex after allegedly firing a gun at the Special Response Team is now in the county jail and under indictment.

Kyle Kellum, 29, is being held in lieu of a $250,000 bond. A superseding indictment was Monday charging Kellum with felonious assault involving a police officer, a first-degree felony.

Gmoser told the Journal-News he presented Kellum’s case and that of the officers to a grand jury for consideration. And the grand jury did not return charges against the officers, but he will not be commenting on the findings of that investigation because it is part of a pending case against Kellum.

“It is appropriate at the conclusion of the criminal case against the man who was indicted (for felonious assault) to release the (entire) grand jury decision that no charges were warranted with respect to the five officers,” Gmoser said.

Birk said four of the officers have returned to work and the fifth is on further leave after his wife had a baby.

Gmoser said Birk made an executive decision based on the investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the decision of the grand jury, “but as the prosecutor who personally presented the case against Kellum and personally presented the issue, as is standard policy in all officer-involved critical incident cases involving police officers to the grand jury, it would be inappropriate now to make any pre-trial statements concerning their conduct.”

Shots were fired between the responding officers and a man with a firearm who apparently barricaded into a residence at Olde Towne apartment complex on Park Lane, according to officials.

Kellum fired at the officers, who were with the Butler County Butler County Crisis Intervention team. Officers returned fire, said Birk.

The intervention team was there for a well-being check for the man who had a history with the mental health agency. A family member called the intervention team.

Kellum was shot multiple times, including in the foot and shin.

“Obviously, when he fired, we returned fire,” Birk said. “We are thankful he is not injured worse.”

Butler County Sheriff’s deputies were also at the scene as an escort with the intervention team, but did not discharge their weapons, according to Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer.

The couching of five officers came fewer than two weeks after officers involved in the February fatal shooting of a man in the parking lot of Walmart on Towne Boulevard were returned to duty following a BCI investigation.

Birk said he is relieved to have the officers back to work as police activity ramps up when the weather warms up and events are scheduled.

“Just to have the guys back makes a huge difference,” Birk said.

Four officers fired their weapon and one was shot at. The chief added that proper treatment of people with mental health issues is crucial. There were negotiators and a crisis team at the scene when the shooting happened.

“It is going to have to come at the state or federal level, it can’t just be in the local cities because we just don’t have the funding for that, or the resources.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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