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October 16, 2003
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Latest Report on Drug Raid Cites Lack of Cooperation

The Associated Press

EATON, Ohio (AP) -- Police officers involved in a drug raid in which one person was killed refused to cooperate with investigators reviewing the unit that carried out the raid, a law enforcement report said.

Preble County Sheriff Thomas Hayes asked for the review of the county Emergency Services Unit that led the raid Sept. 27, 2002. Clayton Helriggle, 23, was shot to death in the raid on a West Alexandria farmhouse where he lived with four others.

The Montgomery County sheriff's office compiled the report, which was obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

Police believed at the time that the house was the center of a major marijuana-sales operation, but only a small amount of marijuana was found.

During the raid, Lewisburg police Sgt. Kent Moore shot Helriggle as Helriggle came down the back stairway to the kitchen, investigators said. A previous investigation of the shooting concluded Helriggle was carrying a 9 mm handgun.

A Preble County grand jury on Feb. 4 did not issue indictments against any officers involved in the raid or against any of the home's residents. Helriggle's family filed a civil suit in federal court last month against Preble County and 20 individuals involved in the raid, claiming wrongful death and violation of Clayton Helriggle's civil rights.

Messages seeking comment were left Thursday with the Preble County sheriff's and prosecutor's offices.

Investigators have found that the warrant for the raid was based on information from a convicted felon. The felon told the investigators he had lied to police about some facts and mistakenly told a subsequent grand jury investigating the raid that Helriggle was the one selling drugs from the house.

The 31-page report said that wrong dates were used in an affidavit, and investigators questioned why so little time was provided for surveillance of the house and why there were no controlled narcotic purchases from the house.

The report said Montgomery County sheriff's investigators attempted for months to interview two Eaton police officers, two Preble County sheriff's detectives, a Preble County prosecutor's investigator, a Preble County assistant prosecutor and an Eaton Municipal Court judge.

The judge who signed the warrants for the raid was the only person who cooperated with investigators, the report said.

The lack of cooperation from those involved in the raid prevented investigators from making any conclusions about the amount and type of training received by the Emergency Services Unit before the raid, the report said.

"We couldn't complete it because some of the officers involved in it weren't able to talk to us," Montgomery County Sheriff David Vore said Thursday. "So we couldn't draw any conclusions in some of those areas. I have no authority to order them to do anything."

Eaton police Chief Phil Romero said the two Eaton police officers were acting under the advice of their attorneys.

An earlier report by the investigators said that the officers who stormed the house had just four hours of tactical training in the nine months leading up to the raid.

The latest report contained a letter from Hayes dated Aug. 8, in which he tells Vore that the unit had been disbanded, and the officers had been ordered by their attorneys not to discuss the matter.






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