A Uniontown police officer was not indicted by a grand jury in the fatal shooting of Ryan A. Probst.
Two Uniontown officers arrived at the home on Lela Avenue NW in Lake Township on the night of July 9.
It was about 10:15 p.m. People at the home had called 911 to report that Ryan A. Probst had turned violent. The 28-year-old had fired gunshots outside the house and threatened to kill himself.
A woman ran out of the home, screaming: "Please help! My daughter's in there! My daughter's in there!" She was referring to a young child.
Video footage from the body camera worn by Sgt. David White reveals in images and sounds what happened next.
White stood at the open front doorway, lights on inside the home. He drew his handgun.
"Police department," he barks out. "Where are you? Come out. Come outside. ... Come out with your hands empty."
Scoping out the interior of the home, White abruptly shuffles back outside in a burst of movement after he spots Probst with a shotgun.
A second Uniontown officer yells out for Probst to drop the firearm.
Panic tightens the voice of a man outside the home: "My wife is in there (with a) 3-year-old."
The two officers decided the next move. One would go around to the back. The other would approach the front.
White's voice is clipped and urgent: "Come out and talk to me. What's your name?"
Seconds later, Probst starts a motorcycle inside the garage before it goes silent. Striding inside the garage with his gun drawn, White approaches Probst, who has fallen off the motorcycle and is sitting on the floor. "Don't move for that gun," White hollers.
Multiple pops of gunfire ring out. White gets shot four times, including in the stomach. He fires back but doesn't strike Probst. White also had tried to stop him with a Taser.
Sirens are heard approaching in the distance. White takes cover behind a police car, breathing heavily as he awaits help.
Another order is shouted from the second officer, near the front door of the home: "Show me your hands!"
Moments later, another series of gunshots erupt.
That's when the second officer shoots Probst, who died from the wounds. The officer's name has not been publicly released by investigators or county prosecutors.
Following an investigation by the sheriff's office, a Stark County grand jury recently reviewed evidence in the case, including watching the police body camera footage. They also heard witness testimony and reviewed the entire file before deciding not to indict the officer in the shooting death of Probst. A grand jury review is standard anytime there's a fatal shooting involving law enforcement.
"They found that criminal charges were not warranted in this case," said Fred Scott, an assistant Stark County prosecutor.
White, a 25-year police veteran, underwent multiple surgeries following the shooting.
Scott said the prosecutor takes the grand jury review of such shootings "very seriously and we present significant amounts of evidence to the grand jury (so ) they feel they have everything necessary to make their decision, and if they say they need more evidence, we use subpoena power and go out and get it.
"We take it very seriously because we don't want to undermine confidence in our justice system and our law enforcement officers."
The case file includes statements made by the officer who fatally shot Probst.
He had called police dispatch, requesting more officers as well as a medic for White. Then he watched the front of the house before again instructing Probst to drop his weapon. That's when he saw a silver handgun in Probst's left hand. Probst turned his body toward the officer.
"Believing that Probst was turning to fire his weapon at either myself or Sgt. White, I raised my rifle and fired several shots at Probst (who fell to the ground inside the doorway)," the officer told investigators.
"In firing my weapon," he said, "I believe that Probst posed an immediate and imminent threat to my life and safety and to the life and safety of Sgt. White. Probst had already shot Sgt. White and I had no doubt that had I not acted, he would have used his weapon to shoot me and or continue to shoot Sgt. White."
The officer also said he was concerned about the safety of two witnesses. Police had told them to go across the street. "Had I not acted, I believe that Probst may have posted a significant threat to them."
A different person that night
Jim J. Probst, 79, Ryan's adoptive father, said Friday night that he has no animosity toward the officers who responded to the calls for help that night.
"They were doing their job under the circumstances," he said. "... We pray for Sgt. White; we pray for the officer who shot (Ryan)."
He wants the public to know the positive side of Ryan, who had served in the U.S. Marines.
"He loved the Marine Corps," the elder Probst said. "He served with a lot of pride; we were very proud of him."
Jim Probst said that Ryan struggled with mental illness and severe depression. Those issues "absolutely" contributed to the events on July 9, he said.
"There's a lot of people who suffer brain disorders and people don't recognize that ... unless you have a (physical disability)," Jim Probst said. "They don't understand mental illness."
Ryan had good qualities, he said, including helping neighbors by working on their lawnmowers and cars.
The family had tried to help him seek treatment for mental illness and depression. But Ryan thought other family members were at fault, not him, Jim Probst said. Sometimes he covered the windows of the house. Other times he was paranoid, worried at 3 or 4 in the morning that intruders were inside the home or trying to break in.
The family supports the Stark County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which has an awareness walk slated for 2 p.m. Sunday at Hoover Park in North Canton.
In the past, Ryan's adoptive mother, Shirley Probst, had always deescalated situations. But that was not possible on July 9, Jim Probst said.
"I don't think he wanted to kill anybody," he said.
"I don't know what happened to him," Jim Probst said. "He pushed me up to a wall; his eyes were glassy and greenish; that wasn't him I was looking at that night." Added Probst, "Something triggered him; we don't know what it was, we have no idea. We probably will never know."
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