Perrysburg, OH – A city councilman is calling for the City of Perrysburg police chief to step down after the chief told his officers to stand down from responding to a man shooting at other officers.
Perrysburg City Councilman Haraz Ghanbari says that that Perrysburg Police Chief Daniel Paez told his officers to stand down during the incident when police were responding from numerous jurisdictions to assist.
The incident that led to the gunfight began at about 2:14 p.m. on Aug. 27 after Perrysburg Township police stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation on I-75, according to the Toledo Blade.
Perrysburg Township Police Lieutenant Matt Gazarek found the driver, 29-year-old Christopher Geiger of Pembroke, Georgia, in possession of marijuana and took him into custody, Perrysburg Township Police Detective Sergeant Todd Curtis told the Toledo Blade.
While Lt. Gazarek was arresting Geiger, one of the passengers in the vehicle slid behind the wheel of the vehicle and took off.
Det. Sgt. Curtis said the driver stopped the vehicle shortly thereafter to let out 33-year-old Robert Scarrow, and police apprehended him at SR 795 and Simmonds Road, the Toledo Blade reported.
Officers spotted the suspect vehicle and attempted to stop it, but the driver fled and drove off road about a mile before he crashed into a ditch.
The driver jumped out of the car and took off on foot, firing his weapon at officers behind him.
“As the suspect fled he fired on the police officers with a handgun,” Perrysburg Township Administrator Walter Celley told WTVG. “The officers returned fire.”
The suspect ran into a backyard and took an elderly man and his grandson hostage, the Toledo Blade reported.
Officers surrounded the golf cart where he was holding them, and were able to get the grandson away from the gunman, WTVG reported.
When the gunman again threatened officers, they opened fire, killing him.
A month after the incident, Councilman Ghanbari is calling for an investigation into the police response to the incident, WTOL reported.
“Our officers here in the city of Perrysburg were doing their duty that day, responding to calls for help and screams for help from a neighboring jurisdiction as shots were being fired at Perrysburg Township Police and as a suspect took two hostages,” the city councilman said.
Chief Paez defended his actions, and said he had made the decision for safety reasons because the officers on the scene were “inexperienced,” WTOL reported.
“The reason I pulled our people is not because I was denying help,” City of Perrysburg Police Chief Daniel Paez explained at a Perrysburg City Council Safety Meeting, WTOL reported. “It was out of fear that we had some inexperienced officers that were on the inner perimeter of that crime scene,” he said.
But Ghanbari told WTOL that the four officers who were ordered to stand down had a combined 60 years of law enforcement experience between them.
He said he felt an investigation into what went wrong during the Aug. 27 incident was “crucial.”
“I believe Chief Paez should be put on paid administrative leave during that investigation and pending the outcome of that investigation, he should either come back, resign, or be terminated,” Ghanbari said.
City of Perrysburg Mayor Tom Mackin expressed his support for the police chief, and his displeasure at learning of Ghanbari’s complaints during the Sept. 25 city council meeting.
He said that was the first time he, Chief Paez, and the city administrator had heard the accusations.
“Chief Paez has served this community with distinction and honor for 23 years, having served in law enforcement for 37 years,” Mackin said in a statement to WTOL. “He handled himself during the meeting with professionalism and dignity. I very much appreciate his service.”
“I would also add that the people who work for this city care very much about this community and do their best for it everyday [sic]. Consistent with that my team will review any of the charges raised that have merit so we can better serve Perrysburg,” the mayor wrote.
But Ghanbari told WTOL he had requested a meeting with the city administrator and the director of public safety weeks ago, and was told it would be a violation of Ohio Sunshine Law.
“For the Mayor to claim he had no clue of my concerns, that is appalling and, quite frankly, absurd,” the city councilman said.