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Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Officer cleared in fatal shooting

By Shelley Grieshop
ST. MARYS - The sheriff's deputy who shot and killed a former St. Marys police officer in January has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Auglaize County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Brian Little - who has been on paid administrative leave since the fatal shooting of Dennis Slone - will now return to work following completion of an investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Wood County Sheriff's Office.
Following a slow speed pursuit through St. Marys on Jan. 28, Little fatally shot Slone, 42, of Waynesfield, after he exited his SUV at a Marathon gas station in St. Marys and confronted officers with a handgun.
Little reportedly fired three bullets at Slone from a Glock 40-caliber semi-automatic gun. No one else - including Slone - fired a weapon during the confrontation, officials have said.
Slone was treated at the scene before being taken by squad to Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys, where he was pronounced dead.
Local officials said Slone previously had exhibited emotional problems. Sheriff Al Solomon said several times in recent years his agency had investigated incidents involving Slone but declined to elaborate on the nature of the calls.
Slone, who was married and had a daughter, served as a St. Marys police officer from November 1995 until February 1997, when his employment was terminated after failing to successfully complete a probationary period.
St. Marys Police Chief Greg Foxhoven said on the day of the shooting, Slone told several officers he was going to St. Marys "to die there."
"He made his intentions very clear," he said.
Little, a 7-year veteran of the sheriff's department and a former Cincinnati police officer, was the closest officer to Slone when he exited the vehicle, said Foxhoven, who witnessed the shooting.
He was not surprised that Little was exonerated.
"All of us were convinced from day one that Sgt. Little would be cleared of all wrongdoing," Foxhoven said.
Sheriff Al Solomon said he's happy to close the case.
"I am very pleased that Sgt. Little has been cleared of any wrongdoing and will be returning to active duty," he said. "It is always a terrible tragedy for the loved ones of the deceased and also for the deputy and officers and their family and friends when the line of duty places a law enforcement officer in harm's way and results in the taking of a human life."
Solomon added he hopes everyone involved in the incident can now have closure.
The case also had been presented to the Auglaize County grand jury and an indictment was not issued.
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