Sheriff Says Fatal Shot was Accidental
A Ross County law enforcement official is on paid leave after firing a shot that eventually killed a woman during a drug raid.
Members of the U.S. 23 Task Force raided a known drug house along U.S. 23 in southern Ross County late Wednesday night. As soon as they got inside, they found a woman with a head wound on the couch in the living room.
"It was discovered later that a bullet had accidentally discharged from outside the door of the trailer and went through the outside wall of the trailer and into the living room," said Ross County Sheriff George Lavender.
The bullet struck Krystal Barrows in the head. She was flown to OSU Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, but she died from her wounds.
Lavender says agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification were immediately called to the scene to begin an investigation.
"The weapons of all the tactical members were collected as evidence and turned over to agents of BCI for investigation," Lavender said.
On Friday, BCI identified the officer who fired the shot as Sgt. Brett McKnight, an 11-year veteran of the sheriff's office. He has been placed on paid administrative leave.
"I really believe that until today when we advised him what happened, I really believe he had no idea he was the one that fired the shot," Lavender said.
The sheriff says he was outside the home at the time of the raid and never heard a shot go off. He thinks it probably happened at the same time a flash-bang grenade was used as agents entered the home. Those devices are used to distract and confuse suspects.
Lavender says they had information that there were drugs in the home as well as weapons and an armed guard at the door.
"I hate that this happened. It's happened. It's something we will deal with and we train and make sure it never happens again," Lavender said.
The sheriff says counselors have been called in to talk with members of the team involved in the raid, and a chaplain has been brought in to serve as a liaison between the sheriff's office and Barrows's family.
Six people were arrested in connection with the raid, which netted large amounts of drugs and weapons.
It will be up to the prosecutor's office to determine if McKnight or any of the suspects arrested in the drug rain faces any charges in connection with Barrows's death.