Source: Courtesy videoSecurity footage of the alleged Clinton County Juvenile Court altercation under investigation.
WILMINGTON — An incident between Clinton County Juvenile Court Bailiff Jim Buckner and a juvenile defendant, first reported two weeks ago, remains under investigation while security footage of the incident released Tuesday by the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office has sparked debate.
“I heard about it first, so I had an idea what I was going to be seen,” said Clinton County Public Defender Rob Baker, who viewed the video before its public release. “But when I saw it, I was shocked that it was as egregious as it was.”
“He (Buckner) didn’t have to take the action that he did,” Baker said. “He was three or four feet away from the kid and went up to the kid, behind him and put him in a chokehold and used his other hand to cover his mouth and nose and face. … He was wrong when he put hands on him.”
Messages were left for Buckner and Clinton County Juvenile and Probate Judge Chad Carey at the court’s office. Those messages, and one with Carey’s home phone, were not returned by press time.
Previously, Carey said he wasn’t in the courtroom at the time; his magistrate, Mark Miars, was.
The entire incident lasts about 30 seconds, according to the security footage.
According to Ohio Attorney General spokesperson Jill Del Greco, no charges have been filed and, as of Wednesday, the incident remains under investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Clinton County Prosecutor Rick Moyer requested BCI investigate and the Special Prosecutions Section review the investigation and determine whether to press charges, according to Del Greco.
The juvenile, a 17-year-old male from the Columbus area, was the alleged driver of a stolen car with two other juvenile occupants that led Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers on a March 4 chase. The chase ended with the car crashing into a Rombach Avenue apartment building, troopers said.
Baker confirmed that the bailiff was Buckner, a former Wilmington City Schools administrative employee and former Clinton County deputy sheriff.
Multiple people, including Baker, have told the News Journal Buckner remains on duty.
“It’s pretty clear that he did something, whether it amounts to a crime or not, he did something that was out of line,” Baker said. “At the very least, I would have expected him to be placed into an administrative leave kind of thing while he was being investigated.”
There is no audio with the security footage, which depicts Buckner grabbing, pulling down and dragging the shackled defendant.
Baker said a court audio recording of the proceedings was turned off when the case adjourned, before the incident occurred.
Just before the incident, it appears the defendant tries to stand but is pushed down by Buckner into his chair. There’s a pause after that push that appears to be an exchange of words between Buckner and the defendant.
Baker said he has been told the defendant told Buckner not to place his hands on him. Baker said he’s heard multiple, inconsistent reports about what Buckner said.
“Whatever the result is, I hope justice is done,” Baker said.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.