MANSFIELD – According to a news report on VOA news website, the case of a Mansfield man who died after a struggle with police involving a stun gun Tuesday at Volunteers of America has been turned over to the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
Terrence Moxley, 29, was pronounced dead at 5:21 p.m. Tuesday at OhioHealth MedCentral Mansfield Hospital, according to the Richland County Coroner's Office. His body was taken Tuesday night to the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.
Mansfield police responded to a 911 distress call at 3:39 p.m. from the VOA facility at 921 N. Main St., according to news release police issued just after midnight Wednesday.
Police responded to the VOA to take Moxley to the hospital after staff reported Moxley had been acting violently. Police said Moxley resisted as they tried to place him in a cruiser. A struggle between Moxley and officers ensued, and a stun gun was used; police said Moxley went into a state of medical distress.
According to the news release, staff had requested police assistance because Moxley had been punching walls and attacking staff members.
"He is having a bad reaction to something and he is swinging on people and we can't control him," a staff member reportedly told police. "He is punching the wall right now. We need someone as soon as you can get them."
MANSFIELD NEWS JOURNAL
Man dies after police-involved struggle at VOA
Police and medical personnel arrived and found staff and probation officers had been keeping their distance from Moxley.
Police said Moxley had slammed a door inside the facility more than 200 times, which caused a clock and a fire extinguisher to fall off the wall. Moxley, who was reportedly incoherent at the time, also broke a door window and damaged a steel frame.
Moxley later calmed down enough to be handcuffed, according to police. But Moxley became increasingly agitated, began making strange noises and displayed abnormal behavior soon after he was checked out by medical personnel.
Since Moxley reportedly refused to walk, police carried him by his arms and legs to a cruiser to transport him to the hospital.
"Mr. Moxley then became combative while resisting and attempting to break free from the officer's grip as well as attempting to bite the officers," police reported. "Officers were unable to get Mr. Moxley into the cruiser."
Officers used a stun gun in an attempt to gain control of Moxley. Two stun gun cartridges were expended and an officer was inadvertently stunned during the struggle, police reported.
Police reported Moxley broke free from handcuffs.
Mansfield police Chief Ken Coontz said BCI has the handcuffs, so he has not looked at them and does not have any information to share about how Moxley was able to break free.
BCI spokeswoman Jill Del Greco said BCI is in the early stages of the investigation.
"We are working to review evidence as part of the investigation and agents are working to conduct interviews with those involved and with witnesses," she said.
In cases where an individual has passed away, she said, "we typically will not turn our findings over to the prosecutor until the autopsy report is complete, therefore, it's safe to say that the investigation will last at least until the autopsy results are back. However, there is always the chance that additional investigation will be needed after the results are returned."
Del Greco said BCI would give its findings to the local prosecutor's office, "and it is then the prosecutor's role to determine if the officers involved violated any law or if the use of force was justified."
"A prosecutor may choose to present the case to a grand jury so that a group of citizens can make that decision. Our investigations do not look at whether or not internal police policy was violated," she said.
VOA surveillance video captured some of the incident. The News Journal made a public records request for a copy of the video, but the request was denied by BCI.
Del Greco said the surveillance video is considered a confidential law enforcement investigatory record and is not public record. Such records are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act if disclosure would mean a high probability that investigative work and other exempt matters would be revealed.
Mansfield police placed officers Shane Gearhart, Paul Webb, Steven Hornback, James Reed and Orlando Chatman on administrative leave in accordance with department policy, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Mansfield Safety-Service Director Lori Cope and Coontz on Wednesday said other officers will work overtime to man the second shift to cover for the officers on leave.
Officer stun guns and video from the facility were held as part of the investigation.
Cope said officers used the minimal amount of force necessary to get the man under control.
"I'm certain that they did, but pending the outcome, we'll know more," Cope said Wednesday.
Cassie Jones, who also is known as Mookie Hill, said she has known Moxley for almost seven years.
Jones said she learned of Moxley's death through her sister.
"I'm very upset, shocked and hurt," Jones said. "Out of anybody, this would be the last person who we would have to miss and let go."
Jones described Moxley as a family-oriented man who was looking to turn his life around. She called him a people person, and said his sons and daughter meant the world to him.
"He's an amazing father," Jones said. "He wanted to be the best dad, the best person that he could be."
Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio provided a statement to offer condolences to the family and loved ones of Terrence Moxley.
Stephanie Aubill, communications manager for the agency, said Moxley was in transitional housing, a residential re-entry program in Mansfield for formerly incarcerated individuals. The halfway houses are to help such people move back into society. Moxley was referred Jan. 12 from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, she said.
The Mansfield facility has 101 beds, she said.
She declined to comment further about Moxley, but said the VOA is fully cooperating with all authorities.
According to ODRC, Moxley spent 116 days in prison on two counts of felony drug trafficking. He was released Jan. 12 then sentenced to six months on post-release control.