Cop’s case goes to prosecutor

WARREN – The state investigation into whether a city police officer acted criminally has been handed over to the Trumbull County prosecutor’s office.

A spokesman for the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the investigative arm of Ohio State Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office, confirmed case files regarding the investigation of Patrolman Reuben Shaw were delivered to Dennis Watkins’ office Friday morning.

He said the case will remain open because BCI anticipates the possibility of further investigation might be requested.

“Often we close the investigation in our office once it is handed over, as in this case the county prosecutor’s office,” explained Dan Tierney. “But because further investigation could be possible we are keeping it open.”

Watkins was out of the office on Friday and unavailable for comment.

Warren Police Chief Erik Merkel said he was not aware of the status of the case.

Shaw has remained on paid leave since early July when claims surfaced that he may have had a vehicle illegally towed to property he owns.

He was informed by letter in July that he was being put on paid leave pending ”any criminal and / or administrative investigations regarding the towing of a motor vehicle from private property.”

Merkel sought help from BCI because he was concerned the incident was a ”potentially criminal matter.”

Warren has held off doing an internal investigation until BCI was finished, but could have proceeded independently.

The case is one of two involving Warren police officers that has moved from BCI to the prosecutor’s office this year. In January, BCI completed its investigation into the Oct. 19 police-involved shooting that killed a 24-year-old city man. That case was handed off to Watkins’ office Jan. 7 for his office to review.

At the time, Watkins said his office will make a decision on the case once the review is completed.

BCI officials said they did not make a recommendation in that case but are leaving it up to Watkins to make a final determination.