On February 28, 1999, during an armed stand-off at Oak Grove Cemetery in Shreve, Ohio, Robert Huffman was shot and killed by a deputy of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. The facts surrounding that incident clearly demonstrate that Huffman invited officers to shoot him, and that he was attempting to force that result by threatening them with a gun. An intensive investigation followed, and all the deputies involved were considered uncharged suspects in that investigation.
On March 15, 1999, the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney determined that no criminal charges were to be filed, but there remained a possibility of the case being reopened, and administrative investigations within the Sheriff's Office continued. When the Akron Beacon Journal demanded copies of the investigative reports, those reports were provided, but the names of the involved deputies were redacted. Then, on March 26, 1999, after Sheriff Thomas Maurer's refusal to provide the redacted names, the Beacon Journal filed a lawsuit in the Ninth District Court of Appeals, demanding that Maurer be compelled to release those names.
Oral arguments in the lawsuit are scheduled for October, 1999. We sincerely hope that the Court will uphold the Sheriff's decision to protect the identity of officers whose actions should be judged by due process, not "trial by media."