Read Kaitlin Durbins story here;
It has been nearly 6 months since Brian Garber was shot and killed by Richland County Sheriff officers, but no information about the shooting has been released. A group of protesters Thursday said time is up, they need answers.
Kaitlin Durbin, News Journal, email@example.com 6:01 p.m. EDT August 28, 2014
MANSFIELD – It was a peaceful protest as promised. Locals quietly lined Park Avenue and Diamond Streets Thursday, occasionally leading chants, but their voices weren’t needed. Signs held high explained why they came: “Justice for Brian Garber.”
Near constant honking rang out on the square as cars and commercial vehicles showed their support for mother Connie Garber’s fight for answers in her son’s death. Brian Garber was shot and killed by unnamed Richland County Sheriff deputies on March 16.
Several vehicles pulled off on the road or rolled down their window at the stop light to ask who Garber was.
“He was an unarmed man shot 14 times by the Richland County Sheriff’s Office,” protesters readily replied.
Friends came out to show their support, and strangers came out to share their stories of injustice by the Sheriff’s Office.
One woman, who asked not to be identified because of pending litigation, said her family recently filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s office for wrongdoing to her son.
“I’ve had enough; have you had enough?” Phil Sydnor called out to passersby.
Sydnor has been one of the more vocal residents, scrutinizing Brian’s case on a Facebook site and blog he manages, both titled “Mansfielders Perspective.” While he has dubbed himself a crusader for justice for any resident wronged by law enforcement, he’s taken special interest in Garber’s case.
“I’m ready for people to quit being afraid in this town,” Sydnor said. “We will not be silenced.”
Brian Garber was shot and killed by Sheriff deputies on March 16.(Photo: Photo submitted)
Several of Connie Garber’s friends were also among the crowd.
Debbie Jasinski watched Brian grow up and said she was horrified by the “injustice” of his death. She heard from Connie that deputies rushed the stairs without identifying themselves or asking Brian to come out with his hands up, and shot him 14 times while he was sitting on his bed.
None of that information has been confirmed by officials. All details about the shooting remain sealed as a part of an active investigation with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
A search warrant signed after the shooting said Brian confronted deputies with a gun that night, but no gun was ever found, according to official reports.
“I hope the officers are held accountable and that the truth comes out about what they’ve done,” Jasinski said.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which has been handling the shooting investigation, received Brian’s long-awaited autopsy report last Friday. It was the last piece in the puzzle they needed to finish their investigation and turn it over to Richland County Prosecutors for review of charges, a spokeswoman said.
That meeting was supposed to happen this week, but officials aren’t providing a specific day.
“Come on, (Prosecutor) James Mayer, we want your decision today,” Sydnor said.
Richland County First Assistant Prosecutor Bambi Couch-Page said Thursday the office would not comment on whether they’ve met with BCI.
Protesters say they have a right to know.
“I believe the more noise we make the more likely we are to get some answers,” Art O’Leary said. “They’ve had that autopsy report for a week now.”
Employees with the prosecutor’s office stayed indoors throughout the protest, but some protesters believe they saw one of the Sheriff officers involved in the shooting on the corner video recording them and snapping pictures. When they called out to him, the man got in his car and left, they said.
The man was in civilian clothes, they said.
Sheriff’s Maj. Joe Masi said he is “not aware of anyone employed with the sheriff’s office using video or taking photographs,” at the protest.
“The protesters have a first amendment right to protest, and the sheriff’s office respects that,” Masi said.
Connie Garber is hugged by a surporter whileLester Beasley, uncle of Brian Garber carries signs demanding justice for his nephew. (Photo: Dave Polcyn/News Journal)
Brian wasn’t the only one whose name protesters are trying to clear. Some signs read “Justice for Brian and Maurice,” referencing, Maurice King, a former Bellville police officer who is currently contesting his felony convictions brought about by former Sherrif Capt. Eric Bosko.
Justice for Brian could mean justice for all, they said.
“We can’t bring (Brian) back, but we can prevent something like this from happening again,” Lee Ann O’Leary said.
Sydnor is organizing another protest for justice on September 11, the 13th anniversary of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. He hopes the movement will bring to light all cases of corruption in Richland County.
Sorry Occupy Mansfield should actually take credit for this 911 protest, they recently have joined with our Community building effort to end corruption that is the driving force being the recent rash of crime in our County. Enough is enough, and together we are going to fight it! – Here is their link to their page for this event…
Connie Garber has agreed to speak at the protest, which will take place in front of the courthouse. A time has not been set.
Youtube Video’s of today’s event:
More pictures from today’s event!