Civil Liberties

Cops Stage Drug Raid—And, Oh Yeah, Accidentally Kill a Woman


Ross County Sheriff's Office
Ross County Sheriff's Office

You know cops are trying to gloss over a bit of bad news when they write up an accidental fatal shooting by their own in a passive voice and bury it at the end of a press release. That's what the Ross County, Ohio, Sheriff's Office did last week, when announcing a drug raid gone really, really wrong. The press release talks up the discovery of "large amounts of what is presumed to be heroin," cash, and firearms. Oh. And did we mention a woman got shot in the head? And died?

From the press release's very last paragraph (PDF):

During the execution of the search warrant, an adult female at the residence suffered an apparent gunshot wound, and was transported from the scene by medical helicopter. Pursuant to policy, the Ross County Sheriff's Office called BCI to the scene to review the execution of the warrant.

Oh. That sounds unfortunate. The "bad guys" must have gone hog wild, just blasting away, right.

Not so much. Buckeye Country 105.5 tells us:

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.

Sgt. Brett McKnight (pictured) remains on administrative leave while the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation exonerates investigates him for letting off the shot and killing Krystal Barrows. He apparently flinched when his buddies set off flash bang grenades in hopes of startling everybody. They succeeded in spades, it would seem, with special impact on police officers who haven't mastered the whole "keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot" rule.

The raid came as part of a Sheriff's Office anti-drug effort called Stop Trafficking or Pay the Price. Sheriff George Lavender tells the Chillicothe Gazette:

"We started the STOPP initiative, and we've got to continue with that. We have traffickers poisoning our children along with our adults," Lavender said. "So many families have family members touched by drugs, and they're not bad people. These users aren't bad people. They're addicted. This is a sickness like people (don't) realize."

If people aren't willing to get over their "sickness," Sheriff Lavender is willing to make them pay a very high price, indeed.