An Ohio man faces a charge of felonious assault arising from a courthouse brawl in which a security officer drew his gun and fired a shot at point-blank range.
Mike Skidmore, a grandfather of 13, is or was being held on a $100,000 bond after being arraigned the next morning in Mansfield Municipal Court as a result of the physical confrontation with security at the Ohio courthouse, which also serves as the Richland County Administrative Building.
An investigation is ongoing.
Skidmore, 58, who is apparently affiliated with the Photography Is Not a Crime website and also writes for a local news website in the area, was filming a government meeting in the Richland County Commission boardroom Thursday morning in Mansfield and was taken into custody there after the melee with two guards.
Skidmore apparently had a beef with the last-minute changed agenda as well as the commission going into executive session (wherein public would be excluded). In the midst of the discussion, he may have inadvertently touched the shoulder of a staffer when he tried to record her name tag with his camera. An official then chastised him for behaving inappropriately, and that’s when security officers were summoned.
See the footage below and draw your own conclusions about the incident.
One of the guards approached Skidmore and without saying a word tried to snatched his camera, at which point Skidmore began landing blows on his face. That’s when the officer allegedly pulled his weapon, and the gun went off to the horror of the attendees.
The bullet struck a wall and fortunately no one was hit in the crowded room.
The second guard then attempted to subdue Skidmore, and they grappled to the floor. Other male county employees shortly thereafter entered the room to help the second officer. “Ow, you bit me, motherf****r,” the second guard can be heard shouting in the clip.
Both officers received treatment later at a local hospital and were subsequently released.
Skidmore was eventually handcuffed while employees waited for sheriff’s deputies to respond to their 911 call.
Skidmore is reportedly a retired prison guard and an ex-Marine. That night, cops executed a search warrant on his home, according to the Mansfield News Journal.
According to the PINAC website, the arrest report indicates “that Skidmore had been acting ‘disorderly’ and had been asked to leave, only to refuse. But it is evident in the video that he had never been ordered to leave.”
Initially, the shooting was considered accidental, but that interpretation has been revised, according to WMFD of Mansfield.
“Richland County Sheriff Steve Sheldon issued a statement Friday that the security officer intentionally fired during a struggle Thursday morning in the commissioners’ office in the Richland County Administration Building. The initial report that the gun was fired accidentally was from a witness inside the board room.”
WMFD noted that “Skidmore is known among local public officials and reporters as being aggressive and forceful in the way he asks questions.” Similarly, Sheriff Sheldon added that “I know Mike; he’s very concrete in his beliefs. I think sometimes he gets maybe a little bit overzealous.”
“The obvious question is: Do government officials have more right to deliberately lay their hands on citizens than citizens do to inadvertently touch government officials?,” the PINAC website rhetorically asked.
Shortly after the incident at the Richland County Commission that led to the arrest of Mike Skidmore, Sheriff Sheldon conducted a press conference.
[Richland County Courthouse image credit: OHWiki]