June 28, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Holed up 5 hours


Staff Writer

BRUNSWICK HILLS TWP. — A five-hour standoff involving township Police Chief Robert Osiecki ended peacefully Thursday evening.

Osiecki, 51, holed up in his home at 991 Lonetree Court and threatened to harm himself Thursday afternoon, less than a week before a scheduled disciplinary hearing.

Osiecki, who was suspended without pay on Nov. 4, had at least two handguns with him during the standoff, Medina County Sheriff Neil Hassinger said. Osiecki was alone in his home and his wife was at work, the sheriff said.

Near the end of a standoff Thursday, SWAT team members take their positions next to the home of Osiecki, who was holed up in his house at 991 Lonetree Court. (Andrew Dolph | Staff Photographer)

Although Hassinger would not elaborate, police said Osiecki was intoxicated. He also was threatening to harm himself, Brunswick Police Chief Carl DeForest said.

Hassinger said Osiecki was taken to Medina General Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

Osiecki contacted Brunswick police about noon and they contacted the sheriff’s department, asking for assistance.

“They felt it was a dangerous situation and were concerned for the safety for himself and other people,” Hassinger said.

Sheriff’s deputies closed off Lonetree Court and informed neighbors of the situation, instructing them to leave the area or stay in the lower levels of their home.

Around 1 p.m., SWAT teams from Brunswick and the sheriff’s department took up positions as snow began to fall heavily. Officers from Brunswick, Wadsworth and Medina also responded.

School buses were not allowed to enter the Autumnwood development where Lonetree Court is located. Children at Hickory Ridge Elementary School were kept in the school cafeteria by staff until they were picked up by their parents, many of whom were notified via CodeRED, Brunswick’s automated emergency alert system.

For several hours, negotiators tried to talk Osiecki out of the house. Around 4 p.m., Hassinger conducted a press conference.

“He’s been very respectful and friendly on the phone,” Hassinger said. He did not get specific about Osiecki’s demands, but said, “He’s asked for a couple things from us, a couple things I can’t do for him.”

Around 5 p.m., Hassinger announced Osiecki had surrendered without incident.

“It’s all over,” he said.

Hassinger said it was a difficult situation.

“As far as seeing someone from law enforcement do this, it hurts,” Hassinger said.

He said Osiecki’s status as police chief did not change the way authorities handled the situation.

“Well, first of all, no one is above the law,” he said. “Everyone is treated the same by all law enforcement.”

When asked if Osiecki’s past made the situation more precarious, Hassinger responded in the affirmative.

“Anytime you mix alcohol and weapons, it’s a dangerous situation,” he said. “They should never be mixed.”

Township trustees, who could not be reached at presstime, have a hearing scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the discipline and possible termination of Osiecki in relation to an incident that reportedly occurred on Oct. 29. Whether that hearing will go forward could not be determined Thursday.

Although details of the Oct. 29 incident have not been released, it apparently involved a domestic situation between Osiecki and his family in which he is accused of bringing a loaded firearm into a “dangerous and volatile situation” in which he also threatened to kill himself, a trustees’ resolution says.

Trustees suspended him without pay on Nov. 4 and have filed written disciplinary charges of malfeasance, misfeasance and misconduct in office against him.

This is the second time Osiecki’s job has come under review. In 2003, Osiecki was convicted of driving under the influence after he crashed his vehicle into a ditch on Buffham Road in Harrisville Township in the early morning hours of Feb. 23.

Township trustees placed him on probation for one year and a 10-day unpaid leave. They required him to attend alcohol rehabilitation for one year and while on probation, he was subject to random alcohol testing.

Osiecki’s lawyer, Stephen Brown, of Medina, declined to comment.

Osiecki has been the police chief in Brunswick Hills since 1993. In 2000 he ran unsuccessfully against Hassinger for sheriff.

Hlavinka may be reached at 330-721-4048 or lhlavinka@ohio.net.