Inside the process: How BCI investigates deadly officer-involved shootings

Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 9:36 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The investigation into the police shooting death of Jayland Walker is now in the hands of Ohio BCI agents.

So what happens next?

19 Investigates is breaking down what we can expect.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which oversees BCI, said the most important thing in these cases is a fair investigation for everyone involved.

BCI is an independent state agency, meaning their job is to conduct investigations without influence from the police department under review.

They do more than 35 investigations like this every year, and BCI is transparent about their process.

They posted this video explaining how it works back in 2020.

It’s a criminal investigation.

Once that’s complete, it’s up to the county prosecutor to decide whether the police officers involved broke any laws.

Special Agent Supervisor Mark Kollar is Ohio’s statewide coordinator for officer-involved critical incident investigations.

He spoke about the process in the video BCI posted online.

“The investigation is very thorough, so the prosecutor or grand jury reviewing the facts and circumstance of the case have all of the information at their disposal so they can make those determinations,” he said.

Four units and a crime lab are involved in the investigation -- the special investigations unit, crime scene unit, cyber crimes unit and criminal intelligence unit.

Between them, BCI agents execute search warrants, interview witnesses, collect, preserve and analyze forensic evidence, scrutinize video and electronic evidence and scour social media for posts about the shooting by witnesses.

All of this takes a lot of time.

“But we would much rather be thorough and make sure we have all of the available information for the prosecutor rather than shortchanging anyone that’s involved and cutting corners just for the sake of getting the investigation done quickly,” Kollar said in the video.

BCI said their goal is to have their portion of the investigation complete within 60 days.

But that doesn’t mean their findings will be ready yet.

Search warrants and a full autopsy report, including toxicology results, can take months longer to round out the full investigation.

Police departments have to ask BCI to review officer-involved shootings, it’s not automatic.

And it’s up to the police agency to determine whether any officers need to be disciplined or fired.

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