COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A veteran Ohio trooper who has since been demoted violated State Highway Patrol policies when he picked up two teenage murder suspects on a highway and gave them a ride to a nearby truck stop where police say they shot and injured a man, according to the report from the internal investigation.
Jeff Shane broke agency rules by not patting down the teens for weapons and getting their names to check against outstanding warrants when he picked them up on an Interstate 70 ramp July 27 after their vehicle ran out of gas. The 17- and 18-year-old were wanted in the slaying of a Columbus convenience store clerk, and the car had been reported stolen.
Shortly after the trooper dropped them off, the teens shot and injured a man and stole his car, authorities said.
Shane told investigators that the teens had struck him as "just two decent guys." He said that they didn't seem suspicious and that he saw no weapons, so he agreed to take them to the truck stop.
Shane, a 29-year-veteran, has been demoted from sergeant at the West Jefferson post to patrolling in Chillicothe.
A dispatcher also was reprimanded for mistakenly entering data that otherwise could have triggered a warning about the stolen car. West Jefferson dispatcher Matthew Prachar entered one wrong letter when Shane relayed the license plate, so no warning showed up.
Prachar faces a one-day suspension if he has another misstep in the next two years.
"This has been just tragic for everyone involved," a patrol spokeswoman, Staff Lt. Anne Ralston, told The Columbus Dispatch.
Larry Phillips, president of the Ohio State Troopers Association, said Shane voluntarily agreed to take the demotion.
"I think this was a fair outcome," Phillips said, adding that it allows Shane to continue his career.
The two teenagers were arrested in Dayton and are now charged in the truck stop shooting and the earlier deaths of three Columbus men, The Columbus Dispatch reported.