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Jury declines to indict Springfield police officer who drove over man waiting for emergency services

A Springfield Police vehicle.
Springfield Township Police Department

A Clark County grand jury has declined to indict a Springfield police officer who caused the death of Eric Cole in June 2021.

The 42-year-old Cole had allegedly argued with his girlfriend and confronted various people while armed with a gun. One of the people Cole confronted shot Cole, and Cole then called 911. As Cole lay on the road talking to a dispatcher, Officer Amanda Rosales drove on the street and rolled her police vehicle over Cole. She told investigators she did not see the man. An autopsy showed that blunt force trauma and not the gunshot wound killed him.

Springfield Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol investigated the incident. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a news conference that the evidence did not show a crime occurred.

"If there is not a statue making it a crime, and if there is not evidence that makes that crime provable in a court of law, then it's not criminal, however wrong and tragic it might be," said Yost. Yost also said there is no evidence Springfield Police organized a cover-up of the incident, but he said they did not inform EMTs that Cole had been run over by a police vehicle.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Anthony Pierson said Springfield police did not conspire to cover up the incident.

"I was not able to find any other evidence of a cover-up. Nor was I able to find any evidence that there would have been a different outcome for Mr. Cole had they immediately told the medics that he had been run over by a car," Pierson said. "Officer Rosales in her interview stated that she did not see Mr. Cole in the road. As you can see from this still photo of her dashcam, he's clearly visible to us. But we have to keep in mind that the dash camera does not necessarily reflect what the officer he or herself sees."

While the jury has declined to indict Rosales, family members are able to pursue a civil lawsuit.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.