A Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy shot and fatally wounded 16-year-old Joseph Edward Haynes of the Hilltop as the teen’s juvenile delinquency hearing was concluding early Wednesday afternoon, January 17, at the Franklin County, Ohio courthouse.
According to officials from the Franklin County Sheriff’s office, a scuffle broke out at approximately 12:40 p.m. on the fifth floor of the downtown county courthouse, which is set aside exclusively for Juvenile Court. The shooting transpired around the corner from Courtroom 56, where the boy had attended a hearing concerning a firearms charge, in a hallway that leads to a door where court officials and attorneys can access the magistrates’ offices.
Haynes’ attorney, Jennifer Brisco, said the tussle occurred when the deputy threatened to arrest her client, who had become emotional during and after the hearing. Haynes was reportedly upset that he had to continue wearing the electronic monitoring device ordered by Magistrate Larry Sanchez during an earlier court appearance.
“Joseph was a little out of sorts because of how things went at the hearing,” Brisco told The Columbus Dispatch. “The officer threatened to lock him up and a scuffle broke out. Joseph was resisting, and that’s when there was a scuffle.”
During the heightened chaos and confusion of the altercation, the deputy discharged his gun, hitting Haynes in the abdomen with a single bullet.
“At some point, as the hearing was concluding, there was an altercation involving the deputy and some of the family members,” said Franklin County Chief Deputy Rick Minerd, who oversees investigations. “And what we have learned was the deputy was knocked to the ground as part of that altercation where he came under attack … one shot was fired.” The authorities would not clarify whether the gun had accidentally discharged, or was deliberately fired.
During a Thursday morning press conference held by the Fraternal Order of Police, union Vice President Keith Ferrell, a spokesman for the deputy — who was later identified as 43-year-old Deputy Richard Scarborough — disputed the reports which suggested that a ‘scuffle’ had broken out, instead claiming it was an ‘attack’ on the officer: “He responded, came in there, and was violently attacked by multiple people.”
Highlighting the officer’s injuries, Ferrell said: “What was very clear to me in my experience is that he was attacked and this was a fight for his life at some point. He was assaulted, and obviously at some point, he felt there was a risk for his life and everyone else in that courtroom.” The victim’s family emphatically denied these claims and said they are untrue.
Though he visited the deputy in the hospital, Ferrell admits he has not spoken with any direct witnesses to Wednesday’s confrontation.
Conflicting stories have emerged in the wake of the tragic shooting, with the official narrative promulgated and championed by authorities and local media affiliates diverging sharply from the multiple correlating eyewitness accounts, and what little can be gleaned from the sparse, limited related video footage available.
Geraldine Haynes, Haynes’ grandmother, who was in attendance at the hearing and witnessed the entire chain of events (see first video for her detailed account), told The Columbus Dispatch that the altercation had started when the deputy roughly attempted to escort Haynes’ mother out of the courtroom, without allowing her even the opportunity to collect her things. When she protested, he pushed her up against a wall. Haynes quickly intervened, placing a hand on the deputy’s shoulder as he shouted for him to “leave my mom alone, leave my mom alone.”
She went on to describe how the deputy “slung Joey to the ground,” at which point she said her grandson didn’t move and had his hands up.
“All of a sudden he pulled his gun and shot him,” Geraldine Haynes recalled. “You could smell the gunpowder.”
“There was no reason why that cop would have been terrified of Joey,” she added.
She tearfully lamented to WSYX over how her slain grandson had been trying to turn his life around when it was cut tragically short by the officer: “He pulled the trigger on my grandson. He was trying to get his life together, now he won’t have a chance.”
Defense attorney and Green Party gubernatorial candidate Constance Gadell-Newton told ABC 6/FOX 28 that she was with her own juvenile client that Wednesday when she witnessed a verbal altercation quickly escalate to a physical confrontation in front of her.
She recalled seeing a clearly upset Joseph Haynes walk out of Courtroom 56, followed immediately by Deputy Richard Scarborough. According to investigators, Haynes reportedly went to court that Wednesday thinking that his ankle monitor would be removed. When that didn’t happen, investigators said he became verbally abusive with court staff and his case was continued to a later court date.
Gadell-Newton said she saw Deputy Scarborough reach for Haynes to arrest him. She said the teen’s mother tried to block the deputy and Haynes came to her defense.
“I believe the young man was thrown on the ground and then shot,” said Gadell-Newton. “That is about the moment I started recording.”
The attorney’s cell phone video (on left) shows the teen on the ground and Deputy Scarborough performing chest compressions over him. The teen’s mother is heard yelling, “They shot my son!” Both the teen’s mother and grandmother are seen escorted away by various responding deputies.
Keith Daniels, Haynes’ uncle, wasn’t at the courthouse when Haynes was fatally shot in the torso. He said pictures, video, and eyewitness accounts from his sister and mother tell a different story than the Sheriff’s official version of events. He strongly disputes the claim that Deputy Scarborough was the victim of a life-threatening attack.
Daniels said what started as a verbal confrontation between Haynes, his mom, and the deputy never should have escalated to gunfire. He questions whether the teen or the Deputy was on the ground at the time of the shooting. He wants to see an independent investigation into what happened.
“How do you pull your gun, point it at somebody’s stomach, and shoot them while they’re on the ground?” said Daniels.
“It was murder, that’s how I look at it from the video I’ve seen, all the public, it was murder. It wasn’t no self-defense, oops it was an accident,” he said.
Daniels points out that the Deputy was twice the size of his nephew. Plus, the Deputy knew the teen was unarmed as everyone who enters the courthouse is checked for weapons.
“You got all types of de-escalation that you could have did,” he said. “It was not no fight for your life.”
A GoFundMe page, “Justice For Joey,” started by Daniels to help with funereal and burial costs, includes the family’s account of the events they witnessed at the courthouse, which they claim are being left out of the media and official reports:
Joey had court yesterday in the Franklin County Juvenile courts. Being his legal custodial parent, of course his mother accompanied him, along side his grandmother for support. The hearing was actually continued and Joey was being given a future court date. The judge was upset that Joey wasn’t willing to take the plea deal and it sparked a bit of tension in the court room. As a result Joeys mother was asked to leave the room, because she was agreeing with Joey on the matter, and encouraged him to not sign the papers. The deputy proceeded to try and force her out of the court room, because she wasn’t moving fast enough to his liking after she was demanded to leave (keep in mind that he didn’t actually give her any real time to leave). He starts pushing her, without her belongings, into the hallway, and continued his vocal assaults against Joey and his mother. When Joey’s mother returned the favor, and argued back, the officer got even more irritated, got louder, and a little more violent. That’s when Joey tried to intervene to protect his mother. At first he was yelling telling the officer to “stop,” and “get off of my mom,” but when his pleas fell on deaf ears, he grabbed the officers shoulder and tried to push him away from his mom. A decision that was proven to be fatal.
The officer then threw Joey into a wall, and he fell to the ground, on his back, not moving, with his hands up. The officer, who was bent down with his knee on top of Joey, without warning, or warrant pulled his gun and fired one shot into Joey’s abdomen. Paramedics were called, but wasn’t allowed to touch Joey until the floor was secured, and the officer was safely escorted out of the building. Many crucial minutes passed away, that ultimately cost Joey his life.
All of the family members, including an underage minor, whose parent was not present, was rushed off into separate rooms, and detained for hours, for questioning. The Sheriff’s Department was trying to gather any evidence they could, even by illegally questioning a minor without a parent, to try and cover their butts, and justify this MURDER. The family wasn’t notified that Joey was dead the entire time they were being questioned, after all parties were released they were handed a coroners card, and sent along their way. There were many other witnesses there that day that could corroborate these events and footage.
A careful, deliberate effort seems to have been made on behalf of Deputy Richard Scarborough (pictured left) to absurdly portray his rapid escalation to deadly force directed on an unarmed, defenseless kid half his size as somehow being a “fight for his life,” and frame the 16-year-old as a violent offender, emphasizing the boy’s criminal history which includes 2 firearms-related charges, as if a few juvenile mistakes garnering criminal charges — which would have been sealed or expunged from his record upon turning 18 — somehow justified an extrajudicial execution.
Haynes was transported to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead thirty-five minutes later, at 1:14 p.m. Deputy Scarborough was treated at Riverside Hospital for a black eye, bruises, and scratches, none of which were life-threatening injuries.
According to records, the Sheriff’s office requested crime scene assistance from the State Bureau of Criminal Investigation; the agency promptly assigned two employees to the case.
Deputy Scarborough was placed on medical and administrative leave for several days during the investigation, then cleared to return to work after less than a week. No charges have been filed in the shooting case, and the deputy was not disciplined for his excessive use of lethal force.
A total of 987 people have been shot and killed by US police in 2017, according to the Washington Post‘s Fatal Force database.
Joseph Haynes was the 55th American to be killed by police in America so far in 2018.