Officer cleared in taser incident


WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — The Washington C.H. Police Department officer involved in a taser incident that resulted in a suspect’s death has been cleared of any criminal and police policy violations.

In a letter dated Jan. 11, 2024 to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and the Washington Police Department, Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade wrote that his office reviewed the case file prepared on Trevor D. Phillips, the WPD officer, regarding the Oct 1, 2023 death of Timothy West.

“After review of the video, the interviews conducted, the coroner’s report, and all other evidence, this office and I specifically find that there are no charges appropriate to present to a Grand Jury in this matter,” Weade wrote in the letter.

Weade went on to write, “In this matter, there is no probable cause that the actions or any perceived inactions of Ptl. Phillips constitute any criminal offense, and presenting this case to a Grand Jury would be a violation of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct that binds all attorneys including myself. Therefore, this office declines to prosecute this case. Ptl. Phillips was acting within the scope of his duties as a peace officer in the State of Ohio, and the death of Timothy West, while unfortunate does not constitute criminal behavior on the part of Ptl. Phillips.”

Weade recently told the Record-Herald that the autopsy essentially revealed that “when Mr. West hit the ground (after being tased), his neck was broken and he died instantaneously.”

According to police reports, on Oct. 1, Phillips made a traffic stop on a vehicle in the 300 block of Gregg Street. Phillips reported that the vehicle stopped at 6:10 p.m. in the 400 block of Gregg Street.

In the video released to the Record-Herald from the officer’s body worn camera, a male passenger, identified as Timothy West, is shown fleeing on foot from the vehicle as the officer approaches at 6:10 and 17 seconds. Patrol Officer Phillips can be seen pursuing West, who ran through yards and between pine bushes next to 415 Gregg St. and to the rear of that residence.

As Phillips entered the opening to the pine bushes, the camera shows the suspect running around the corner of the house and back toward the officer. At this time, the officer deployed his taser at 6:10 and 35 seconds. West is shown immediately falling to the ground and the officer then secures him in handcuffs.

In the video, cash can be seen falling from the West’s hands while he is on the ground.

At 6:12 p.m., Phillips requested EMS to the scene. At 6:14 p.m., a backup unit arrived on the scene and observed the suspect not breathing. At this time, officers began life-saving measures until 6:17 p.m. when EMS arrived and took over.

West was then transported to Adena Fayette Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 7 p.m.

As previously reported by the Record-Herald, BCI led the investigation into the incident. During this period, Phillips was placed on paid administrative leave.

Additionally, at the time of the traffic stop, West had an indictment through the Fayette County Common Pleas Court for aggravated possession of drugs, a felony of the third degree, according to police. Police said he was also in possession of drug paraphernalia and suspected narcotics at the time of the incident.

The driver of the vehicle was not charged, according to police, and the drug investigation was closed due to the death of the suspect.

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