Former Justice Department investigator questions report on deadly officer-involved shooting in Niles

Local News

The investigator said the report on what happened during the shooting and why the officers weren't charged raises questions

NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – A former investigator for the U.S. Justice Department released a critique of Friday’s news release which cleared Niles police in the shooting death of Matthew Burroughs.

The critique was requested by the Greater Warren-Youngstown Urban League.

The four-page critique was completed by Lawrence Mitchell, who worked 25 years with the Justice Department and specialized in use of force investigations.

READ: Critique of Niles deadly officer-involved shooting report

The Urban League says the critique bears some question that warrants a third party to review the case.

Burroughs, 35, was killed in the shooting involving two police officers near the Royal Mall Apartments on Vienna Avenue in Niles on January 2.

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said his office agrees that prosecution of officers Christopher Mannella and James Reppy was unwarranted. That decision left many in the community feeling justice was not served.

Mitchell’s main criticism was that the document Watkins released was a news release and not what Mitchell called “the official reports.”

Mitchell said there should have been an official report produced by Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Mitchell was also critical of how the news release was worded. He wrote the release supported the “judgment call” of Officer Christopher Mannella — that it seemed to give sympathy and discussed how Officer Mannella is suffering from the shooting.

Mitchell also wrote that it was clear the news release described Burroughs as a bad individual because it referenced Burroughs’ criminal background.

However, there was a statement in Mitchell’s critique that appeared questionable.

He claimed “25 witnesses were interviewed but only two were mentioned in this news release.”

We counted six witnesses mentioned in Watkins’ release. Twenty-five people testified before a grand jury, but that testimony is secret and is not required to be released publicly.

Niles police also released information associated with the shooting on the department’s website. It shows all of the police video from the day.

It was the Niles Police Department — not the Trumbull County prosecutor — that released the video from the day Burroughs was shot.

But Mitchell’s critique also called that video being released a “media production.”

He said there’s a shot that shows Burroughs’ foot on the brake and Mitchell questions why it would be on the brake if he was speeding toward the police.

Mitchell’s critique did not mention the information released by Niles police.

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