NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (July 15, 2022) – The man who got pelted with beanbags and taken down by a K9 following an armed confrontation with law enforcement will be spending three years in prison.
That’s the sentence prosecutors recommended for 31-year-old Ryan Leeper and the one Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Ernest imposed Friday afternoon, although the Ohio Department of Corrections could keep him locked for another year and a half is he misbehaves in prison.
Leeper was reportedly holding a knife in each hand when he charged at officers trying to arrest him on a warrant during the March 29th encounter in Goshen Township. Assistant Prosecutor Scott Deedrick praised Cole Morris, the sheriff’s detective who fired the beanbags, for his judgment and composure.
“Detective Morris knew that within a certain distance that beanbag shells themselves can be fatal, and he indicated that there’s 15 to 20 feet. If you get any closer than that it could potentially be fatal. Sp he actually waited to the lost possible minute to deploy it where it also wouldn’t be fatal,” he said. “Nationwide, law enforcement officers are scrutinized more fully than in the past, sometimes justly, sometimes not. There are some people that have a very negative reaction to them but I think in this instance Detective Morris demonstrated law enforcement in its best possible light.”
Deedrick said Leeper had made threats of self-harm during the encounter, holding a knife to his throat at one point and telling officers to shoot him. Ernest called the level of restraint Morris demonstrated during the encounter remarkable.
“Clearly, you have your life today because he didn’t shoot you on the spot, and that could have been a real possibility had there been a different officer there on that day.”
Leeper’s prison term will run concurrently to the two-year one he’s been serving since May for drug possession and receiving stolen property convictions.