Grand jury returns no indictment in fatal Liberty Twp. officer-involved shooting

A Butler County grand jury has reviewed evidence in a January officer-involved fatal shooting in Liberty Twp. and declined to issue an indictment, according to Prosecutor Michael Gmoser.

Deputy Ricky Phillips, now an acting detective, shot and killed Junius Thomas after a several-hour standoff at the Lakota Pointe Townhomes following a response to a domestic report on Jan. 10. An investigation conducted by the sheriff’s office says Thomas raised a weapon in a doorway, and the deputy fired.

“The facts and circumstances surrounding this officer-involved shooting were presented to the Butler County grand jury for a full review. After full consideration, the jury declined to issue an indictment,” Gmoser said today.

Deputies were called at 5:16 p.m. to a domestic violence report in the 6800 block of Yoakum Court in the Lakota Pointe Townhomes. Thomas had kicked in the door, and the female resident called 911, officials said.

The woman who made the 911 call fled. Thomas was armed and agitated when deputies arrived, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies, who were briefly inside the residence but unable to take Thomas into custody, called for the SWAT team after exiting.

At 11:24 p.m., the SWAT team used an armored vehicle to open the door, hoping to use a robot to check on Thomas and in an attempt to deploy a chemical irritant. But Thomas closed the door.

“A second attempt was made to breach the door for the same purpose. At this time, Mr. Thomas appeared in the doorway with his pistol. He was immediately observed by SWAT members to be pointing his unholstered firearm at the SWAT members. The immediate lethal threat by Mr. Thomas was met with an immediate lethal response. Mr. Thomas was fatally shot by a SWAT member,” Gmoser said.

Thomas, 31, was shot four times. He died at the scene. An autopsy revealed the presence of methamphetamine at the time of his death.

Gmoser said during negotiations with Thomas, he was in communication with his mother. In one text message, Thomas said, “Na. tell em theres no negotiations. I guess there going to have to take me dead because I believe what I stand for and you may want to remind them who I truly am. If I die the world will end in case you do not recall. I love you.”

Phillips is an eight-year veteran of the sheriff’s office and has returned to duty, according to Butler County Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer.

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