Fred Wild. Contributed photo taken in 2020.

Fred Wild. Contributed photo taken in 2020.

Trumbull County Prosecuting Attorney Dennis Watkins announced May 23 that he would not bring charges against any of the police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Fred H. Wild III in Brookfield more than a year ago.

“Because this office finds that there can be no other conclusion other than the fact that the officers’ use of force was reasonable, there will be no presentment of this matter to a grand jury and this investigation will be closed with no action against any of the officers involved,” Watkins said in a statement.

Watkins released an 88-page report, with extensive detailing of the results of an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which probes all officer-involved shootings.

Wild, 50, of Girard, had a long history of convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, assault and other charges, and had been court-ordered to seek mental health counseling, according to court records. 

At the time of his death on March 21, 2023, Wild was wanted in Lake County for disconnecting his SCRAM bracelet, which measures whether the wearer has consumed alcohol, and by Liberty police for failing to stop for them three days earlier.

On March 20, 2023, Lordstown police encountered Wild and he took off in a pickup. “A pursuit ensued for nearly 38 miles which reached speeds up to 100 mph with numerous other traffic violations,” the report said.

Police lost sight of the truck when it drove along railroad tracks in Brookfield, police said. Police later found the truck abandoned.

Wild stole another pickup from a Brookfield man. 

At just before midnight March 20, police received information from a resident of the 1400 block of Route 7, Brookfield, that Wild was staying in a cabin on the resident’s property. Police from Brookfield, the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Highway Patrol, Vienna and Lordstown met and mapped out a plan in which most officers would walk the quarter to half mile back to the cabin and set up strategic positions, and then an officer would drive to the cabin and they would attempt to arrest him.

Several officers said Wild became aware of police, probably by one stepping on a stick that snapped loudly, before they had gotten into position. Wild jumped out of a window directly into the cab of the stolen truck, which was parked within inches of the cabin, the report said.

Police ordered Wild to stop and give himself up, and two policemen tried to smash the passenger window to get into the truck.

“After Wild started the truck, he revved the engine and drove the truck forward,” the report said. “The rear tires spun and kicked up gravel. Wild struck several trees in front of him with the snowplow attached to the front of the truck.”

Police continued to order Wild to stop, but the truck kept moving toward several officers who were in front of it, the report said. Five officers fired 13 shots at Wild and he was hit five times, apparently killing him instantly, the report said.

BCI agents interviewed the policemen who fired on Wild and others who were present but did not fire for various reasons. “The officers all expressed some level of fear for their safety and the safety of other officers as Wild drove the truck forward with the snow plow attached as some of the officers were in front of the truck as the incident unfolded,” the report said. “The officers indicated that this was one of the primary reasons that they fired their rifles at Wild and the truck.”

BCI agents talked to four people who knew Wild, including his son and the owner of the cabin, to get a sense of Wild’s state of mind. Wild had been drinking, appeared to be suffering from untreated mental illness and his behavior was erratic in the days before his death, according to the report. Wild’s girlfriend told police he was obsessed with rock singer Alanis Morissette and believed he and Morissette would be “together one day,” the report said.

In texts to his girlfriend, Wild stated, “My life’s a wreck. I hate feeling like this.” He spoke of the incident that started in Lordstown as “just a minor high speed chase” during which he “(held) the petal to the floor.”

“You should have gone for that ride,” he said.

Wild said it “sucks” that his truck would not go faster because “I need a faster car to run from the cop cars.”

When his girlfriend said that the cops will pull him over, Wild responded, “They can try.”

Wild’s estate has filed a civil wrongful death suit against the five officers who fired on Wild. The suit is pending in federal court.

Watkins said he is aware of the civil suit but would not comment on it “to not unnecessarily publicize this matter.”

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