Police: Traffic stop turns into fatal officer-involved shooting after passenger pulls gun

MIDDLETOWN — A police-involved shooting started with a “traffic infraction” Saturday evening and ended seven minutes later when a passenger displayed a weapon and was shot and killed, according to the initial report released Wednesday night by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Victor Lykins, 47, of Middletown was killed in the parking lot of Walmart on Towne Boulevard in Middletown. The shooting remains under BCI investigation.

Lykins was the front-seat passenger and his brother, Robert, was driving when the Jeep SUV was stopped by two Middletown police officers about 5:19 p.m. Saturday at 2900 Towne Blvd.

According to the Middletown police report, Robert Lykins had an invalid driver’s license and was placed in the back seat of the police cruiser. Fuzzy cruiser camera video released Wednesday showed Robert Lykins being escorted to the cruiser without any struggle or incident, while another officer talked with the passenger.

During the traffic stop, there does not appear to be any cause for alarm from those in the parking lot, and video showed a woman pushing a full shopping cart and loading the item into her nearby vehicle.

Officers determined Victor Lykins provided false information, the report states. After they positively identified him, they determined he was wanted on a warrant for tampering with evidence.

Officers attempted to have Victor Lykins step out of the passenger-side of the vehicle, however, “at this time Lykins brandished a handgun,” according to the report.

During the struggle over the firearm, one of the officers discharged his gun, hitting Victor Lykins, according to the report and police sources. Shots fired was reported at 5:26 p.m., according to police records.

The Middletown Division of Police does not have body cameras. The cruiser video is difficult to follow, especially when the shooting happens, because the officers are blurred so they can’t be identified.

The video shows the officers going to the passenger side door, the door opening and quick movement, then at least one shot. A back seat window is shattered in the SUV.

The cruiser camera began with Middletown police following the SUV through the Walmart parking lot until it pulled into a parking space. The cruiser pulled behind the vehicle.

A few minutes after the shots were fired, the two officers appeared to console each other and mulled outside the vehicle with the door still open, according to the cruiser video.

They pulled Lykins out of the vehicle three minutes, 30 seconds after shooting him, and one officer frantically performed CPR for two minutes, 30 seconds on the pavement. Middletown paramedics arrived five minutes, 15 seconds after the shooting and two paramedics continued caring for Lykins.

Both officers are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. It may be months before the BCI releases its findings related to the shooting, according to BCI Spokesman Steve Irwin.

On Thursday, the names of the officers had not been released by Middletown police. Irwin said the officers are considered uncharged suspects in an ongoing investigation. Middletown Police Chief David Birk said he would release the names of the officers after they have been interviewed by BCI.

Since the incident occurred in Warren County, the investigation results will be reviewed by Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell, who was at the scene Saturday night.

It’s the policy of Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser to present the investigation results of all officer-involved shootings to a grand jury for consideration. Fornshell said his policy is different.

“From my perspective, regardless of what type of case it is, whether it involves a police officer or not, if I do not believe there is evidence that is sufficient to ultimately prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt then I believe it is my ethical obligation not to present that matter to the grand jury,” Fornshell said.

Fornshell said he was elected to make “those kinds of determinations in whatever type of case it is.”

“So if there is no reasonable expectation that you would be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, I don’t believe I should be presenting a case like that to a grand jury,” he said.

Fornshell said he has yet to see any results of the investigation into Saturday’s shooting.

This was the first fatal police-involved shooting in Middletown since 1997 when Bill Becker was police chief and the department conducted the investigation that eventually cleared the officer involved.

In October of that year, police officer Aaron McQueen shot and killed Micah Lofton after the car Lofton was driving rammed a police cruiser and then headed for McQueen near the dead end of Plymouth Avenue, according to newspaper archives.

McQueen was cleared of any wrongdoing, but he left the police department a short time later, Becker said.

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