TRUMBULL COUNTY Grand jury to hear deputy sheriff's case
The deputy is on paid administrative leave pending his appeal. He hasn't been fired, as the sheriff first announced.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A Trumbull County grand jury will decide if a deputy sheriff should face criminal charges.
County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said his office has received a report from a state Bureau of Identification and Investigation probe into the actions of Brian Kaintz, and the matter will be presented to the grand jury.
"It's a pending matter and I cannot comment further," Watkins said.
Sheriff Thomas Altiere recommended Monday that Kaintz be fired.
Altiere said Tuesday he fired Kaintz, then said Wednesday that Kaintz, 30, will remain with the department pending his appeal.
"I recommend that his position with this department be terminated, but since he is appealing, he will remain on paid administrative leave during the appeal process," Altiere said.
Altiere said an internal hearing with Kaintz and his attorney, Randall Weltman of Cleveland, was held Wednesday.
The sheriff did not attend the hearing but officials from the department's internal affairs division did.
"I will be receiving their recommendation and then I will make a decision," Altiere said. "I hope to have a decision by Friday."
Neither Kaintz nor his attorney could be reached.
Altiere said he recommended firing Kaintz after an internal investigation into his actions during a chase June 26.
A letter from the sheriff dated Monday states that during the chase, the suspect, Christopher Rex, 26, of Warren-Burton Road, Southington, crashed. The sheriff said Kaintz fired 16 shots from his department-issued weapon during the episode.
"He violated our department's policy on use of deadly force because he was firing at the car as the car was leaving -- there was no threat to him at that time," the sheriff said.
From report and tape
Kaintz's report, which he filed a few hours after the pursuit, states that around 2:25 a.m. he saw a man driving 73 mph in a 55 mph zone on U.S. Route 422 in Southington.
A chase ensued with speeds exceeding 100 mph.
A videotape from Kaintz's cruiser shows the man's vehicle hitting a tree near state Route 534 and Doty East Road. The driver puts the car into reverse and backs into Kaintz's cruiser.
Kaintz cannot be seen on the tape, but he can be heard telling the man to stop.
Shots can be heard as the man flees, and Kaintz can be heard telling 911 dispatchers: "Shots fired." Houses can be seen on the tape.
Kaintz reported getting out of the cruiser and telling the man to put up his hands. He reported the man "intentionally slammed into the patrol unit with force."
"Officer fired several rounds at the vehicle's rear tires in an attempt to neutralize the threat to this officer," the report states.
After the suspect fled, Kaintz called for his supervisor and continued to search.
"By Kaintz saying 'shots fired,' dispatchers believed that he was being shot at," Altiere said. The sheriff noted that Rex did not have a gun.
About 20 minutes later, Kaintz and other officers went to Rex's home and arrested him on charges of DUI, driving under suspension, speed, failure to control, failure to comply and felonious assault.
Rex has pleaded innocent. A pretrial hearing is set for Sept. 26 in Newton Falls Municipal Court.