A deputy was “viciously attacked” by a 16-year-old boy and his family in an Ohio courthouse after a hearing Wednesday, a police union spokesperson said Thursday -- despite the insistence of the slain teen’s family that excessive force was used.
Joseph Haynes was in a domestic relations courtroom in Columbus when his family and a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy reportedly got into a scuffle Wednesday. Haynes was appearing at a court hearing on firearm charges and an electronic monitoring device the court assigned him earlier in the case, said Rick Minerd, the investigations chief with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
A police union spokesman, who is representing the unnamed deputy, disputed reports Thursday the encounter was a “scuffle,” saying it was an “attack” on the officer.
“He responded, came in there and was violently attacked by multiple people,” the spokesman said at a news conference.
Referring to the deputy’s injuries, the spokesman said: “What was very clear to me in my experience is that he was attacked and this was a fight for his life at some point. He was assaulted.”
Minerd said previously that the altercation involved “the deputy and some of the family members.” Jennifer Brisco, Haynes’ lawyer, told The Columbus Dispatch the deadly shooting happened around the courtroom where the hearing was held. She said the teen was “a little out of sorts” because of the hearing’s outcome.
"The officer threatened to lock him up and a scuffle broke out. Joseph was resisting, and that's when there was a scuffle,” Brisco said.
Haynes' grandmother, Geraldine, told FOX28 Columbus the deputy and the teen’s mother got into an argument. Investigators said the deputy was knocked to the ground and was “under attack.” But Geraldine disputed that account.
"There was no reason why that cop would have been terrified of Joey," she said.
She added: "Joey went over, grabbed him by his shoulders and the guy slung him around and slung Joey to the ground. And then he got on top of Joey. And then Joey's hands were up in the air like that and the cop with his hand down by his side and the gun went off. He pulled the trigger on my grandson."
Joseph Haynes suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen. He died a half-hour later at the hospital.
The deputy, who was not identified, was also hospitalized for unspecified injuries, though Minerd said the officer wasn't shot.
Minerd said the sheriff's office extended its condolences to the family of Haynes and wished the injured deputy a quick recovery. He wouldn't speculate on what exactly happened.
"That's a very busy courtroom, very emotional floor here in the courthouse," Minerd said.
Court records showed Haynes had previous run-ins with the law, with charges including assault and carrying a concealed weapon.
Haynes’ grandmother said the teenager was trying to turn his life around.
“He was trying to get his life together. Now he won’t have a chance,” the grieving grandmother said.
The sheriff's office immediately requested crime scene assistance from the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and two employees of the agency were assigned, records show.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.