Officer shoots news photographer, confusing camera for a gun

By Kristine Phillips / The Washington Post

A newspaper photographer from Ohio was shot Monday night by a sheriff’s deputy who apparently mistook his camera and tripod for a gun, and fired without a warning, the newspaper reported.

Andy Grimm, a photographer for the New Carlisle News, left the office at about 10 p.m. to take pictures of lightning when he came across a traffic stop and decided to take photos, according to the paper’s publisher, Dale Grimm.

“He said he got out, parked under a light in plain view of the deputy, with a press pass around his neck,” Grimm told The Washington Post. “He was setting up his camera, and he heard pops.”

Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Jake Shaw did not give any warnings before he fired, striking Andy Grimm on the side, according to the paper.

Dale Grimm, who is Andy Grimm’s father, said his son called him from an ambulance on the way to the hospital. He is expected to recover.

The state attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Division is investigating the shooting. A representative for the attorney general’s office was not immediately available for comment Tuesday morning. It also remains unclear if Shaw has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings, or if he will face disciplinary actions.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has not returned a call seeking comment. Sheriff Deborah Burchett has not responded to an email.

Andy Grimm, who knows Shaw, said he does not want the officer to be fired, the paper reported.

“I know Jake,” he said. “I like Jake.”

Asked if he thinks the sheriff’s deputy or the department should be held accountable for the shooting, Dale Grimm said he’d rather not say anything.

“We know the deputy. This is a small town of 5,000 people … We know the deputies. We work with them on a daily basis. We have an excellent relationship with them,” he said.

Dale Grimm and his son run the family-owned newspaper, located in New Carlisle, a town just outside of Dayton, Ohio. The family contracts with reporters, editors and stringers.

The newspaper echoed the same sentiments of sympathy toward the officer and posted a message on its Facebook page asking its readers and followers to refrain from making harsh comments about Shaw.

“On behalf of our entire family, we thank you for all of the kind messages. One other thing. Please don’t mean mouth the deputy. Andy said he doesn’t want Jake to lose his job over this,” the paper wrote.

Dale Grimm said he saw Burchett, the sheriff, shortly after his son was shot.

“She held my hand. She said, ‘You know I love Andy,’ ” he said.

He said the sheriff’s office has not said much to him about what prompted the shooting, but he’s assuming that the officer thought the camera was a weapon.

“He probably didn’t know what it was,” he said. “I don’t want to second guess the deputy because they have to make split-second decisions. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong.”

Andy Grimm is a known photographer in the community and has been working at the paper for years, his father said.

“He really took to photography. He watched hundreds of tutorials on YouTube,” Dale Grimm said. “He’s a whiz with his camera, a whiz with Photoshop. He also lays out the newspaper.”

Dale Grimm said his son had finished laying out the paper before he was shot. Otherwise, the print edition would not have been published.

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