Ohio cop indicted for fatal shootings of speeding suspect and his neighbor
Police officer aims gun at night in the dark (Shutterstock)

By Jon Swaine, Ciara McCarthy and Jamiles Lartey

Joel Jenkins has been simultaneously indicted in the fatal shooting of a speeding suspect in March and in the deadly shooting of a neighbor last week

An Ohio police officer has been simultaneously indicted in the fatal shooting of a speeding suspect in March and in the deadly shooting of a neighbor last week, according to state officials.

A special grand jury charged the officer, Joel Jenkins, with murder for the shooting of Robert Rooker in March and with manslaughter in the apparently accidental shooting in the head of Jason Brady last Thursday. Jenkins was fired this week from his job as a Pike County sheriff’s deputy.

Jenkins was also charged with reckless homicide over the death of Rooker, 26, who was shot after fleeing at high-speed when he was caught speeding. Authorities alleged that Rooker eventually rammed two police vehicles.

In the off-duty shooting of Brady, 40, the former deputy was indicted for involuntary manslaughter as well as reckless homicide and tampering with evidence, according to Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio attorney general. Jenkins has said he fired the gun inadvertently while showing it to his neighbour. Police said he had been drinking.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Jenkins, 31, who had been released on bail in the Brady shooting, according to Tierney.

Jenkins had been placed on administrative leave after the March shooting and then reinstated, placed on leave and reinstated again, according to local reports. He was fired for insubordination after refusing to answer a major’s questions about the shooting that killed Brady, according to NBC4.

A special Pike County grand jury was already scheduled to be empanelled on Thursday to consider Jenkins’s officer-involved shooting in March. “A decision was made for it to look at the second shooting as well,” said Tierney.

Jenkins was the only officer charged in relation to the March shooting of Rooker, though at least two other deputies were involved. “No other persons are expected to be indicted,” said Tierney.

The prosecution of Jenkins is being handled by Ohio’s bureau of criminal investigation, which is part of the attorney general’s department, after the Pike County authorities recused themselves to avoid a conflict of interest. Pike County prosecutor Rob Junk had previously told reporters that the shooting of Rooker appeared to have been justified.

Junk also said this week that he had allowed Jenkins to borrow guns from him and that it was possible one of the weapons had fired the shot that killed Brady. “Probably three or four months ago I did lend him two. He had been cleared for duty,” Junk said, according to the Chillicothe Gazette.

The Ohio deputy is at least the ninth police officer to be charged with a crime after a fatal shooting this year, according to The Counted, the Guardian’s ongoing investigation into police killings. Others include Michael Slager, who killed Walter Scott in Charleston South Carolina, and Officer Stephen Rankin, who killed William Chapman in Portsmouth Virginia, both in April.