Video of Niles police shooting lacks moment when gun fired
By ED RUNYAN
NILES – Members of the public who expected to see body-camera videos and Royal Mall apartment surveillance videos conclusively showing what caused a Niles police officer to shoot and kill Matthew Burroughs apparently won’t have that opportunity.
On Friday, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins released a statement indicating that no charges were filed against officers who fired at Burroughs on Jan. 2. And Niles police released the body-camera videos and many other documents in the case on the www.thecityofniles.com website.
The body-camera videos suggest there is no body-camera video showing the moments before Niles police officer Chris Mannella fired three fatal shots into Burroughs.
An internal affairs memo written by Niles Capt. Tony Johnson that is also on the city website says one reason is that some officers had not activated their body cameras yet at the time of the shooting. One was Mannella.
And, an email from the Ohio Attorney General’s office Monday also indicated no usable surveillance video from the apartment complex was available because the camera closest to the shooting did not work.
A video released by Watkins shows the body camera worn by Niles officer James Reppy as he chased Burroughs’ car into the apartment complex. But by the time his camera catches a glimpse of Mannella in the frame, Mannella has already fired one of his three shots.
The sound of two more shots is heard as Reppy steadied himself on his cruiser and fired five times at the back of Burroughs’ Ford Fusion. None of his shots hit Burroughs.
An internal affairs report written by Johnson says Mannella indicated he tried to activate the camera earlier, but he reached for the wrong part of his uniform as Burroughs’ car started down the road toward him and didn’t have time to try again.
Mannella said the reason he reached in the wrong place is that he has two types of armored vests. He reaches in different places depending on which one he is wearing, he said.
Johnson’s report says Mannella violated the department’s Body Worn Camera policy, which requires officers to “record all contacts with citizens in the performance of their official duties.”
The report says Reppy followed policy, but Mannella didn’t because he didn’t activate his body camera as he “entered the Royal Mall at approximately” 2:33 p.m.
The third officer there when Burroughs was shot, Paul Hogan, did not activate his body camera as he entered the apartment complex or at all.
Mannella had gone the apartment complex looking for Burroughs, 35, who lived there and had a conflict with a Niles Municipal Court probation officer a short time earlier.
Hogan apparently arrived in the apartment complex just before Mannella but drove past Burrough’s apartment building, then turned around and was facing Burroughs’ car as it headed toward his apartment, according to a copy of the BCI investigation on the Niles web site.
A synchronized video showing the times when each body camera was activated shows that Lt. Dan Adkins activated his when he got close to Burroughs’ car after the shooting, but he should have activated it earlier, the report says.
Holland said Mannella and Holland both received a written reprimand and refresher training from a captain with the Niles deparatment on the Body Worn Camera policy.
Meanwhile, photos of the area where the Burroughs shooting took place indicate there was a surveillance camera dome mounted on a telephone pole directly overhead of the shooting scene.
But when BCI was asked Monday whether there was any apartment surveillance video of the shooting, spokesman Steve Irwin said: “BCI reviewed video from one operable camera located near the back of the complex. The video showed police lights in the distance but nothing further. A security camera found at the front of the complex was disabled (and never repaired) some time before the incident.”
In a related matter, Thomas Conley, CEO of the Greater Warren Youngstown Urban League, said Monday he personally has questions about the shooting now that he has seen still photos of Burroughs after he had been shot, but a retired U.S. Justice Department official wrote a much more -in-depth critique.
Conley said the photo from the body cameras shows that Burroughs’ right foot was on the brake after he had been incapacitated. Conley said it “leaves questions” as to why Manella thought Burroughs was about to run him over with his car.
Watkins said Friday he believes the document that his office issued is “very thorough” and “speaks for itself.”
Conley also released a memo written by Lawrence Mitchell, retired former investigator with the U.S. Department of Justice, that critiques the 35-page memo Watkins released to the public indicating that no Niles officers had been charged.
Mitchell criticized the memo for detailing Burroughs’ previous run-ins with law enforcement. It “depicts Burroughs as a bad individual and the officer Chris Manella as a well-respected professional,” Mitchell wrote.
Citizens are planning a “community conference” for 4 p.m. Saturday SEPT21 at the Niles Police Department. A flyer indicates public unhappiness with Friday’s news release, saying “No charges! Officers cleared! No justice.”