We found what happened in this case affects your safety every day. So many suspects are wanted, but there are so few people looking for them.
This story revolves around Emin Johnson, one of three suspects facing charges for the death of Bluffton Police Officer Dominic Francis.
He died after getting hit while trying to help stop a chase on I-75.
The I-Team discovered Johnson had been wanted for months on other charges, but no one had been looking for him for that.
He had been wanted for charges involving robbery, weapons and more, but the I-Team confirmed the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office had never sent anyone out to look for Johnson.
We called the Bluffton police chief to discuss this and he wasn’t surprised.
Chief Ryan Burkholder said, “There’s such a shortage of police officers in the state of Ohio.”
The chief now hopes for justice from the court system for his officer.
He added, “I pray that the justice system works the way it’s supposed to work and, in the end, the correct justice is administered.”
We found the first warrant issued for Emin Johnson last summer. He didn’t show up for court.
Meanwhile, records show he had another case already pending and he stopped showing up for that. But, the judge in that case didn’t issue a warrant until nearly six months later.
Records show Judge William Vodrey wrote on the docket that Johnson “has not made himself available to the court.”
The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department says it has 11,505 active warrants.
In a statement, spokesperson Tyler Sinclair wrote:
“Since August 2021, Emin Johnson had an open warrant for a low-level, nonviolent offense. Just recently, in February, he picked up a second warrant in an unrelated case. The Sheriff’s Department prioritizes the pursuit of open warrants based on the highest level of offenders who pose the greatest reasonably assessed threat to the public. In addition, the warrant was entered into the national law enforcement database allowing all law enforcement agencies nationwide to assist in the apprehension of that and the many other active warrants for persons who fail to appear in court.”
We also spoke to Bluffton Mayor Richard Johnson about what we found.
The mayor said, “There just wasn’t enough people around to get everything done.”
He believes this case shows how law enforcement has to struggle to keep the streets safe.
The Bluffton mayor and police chief are grateful for the support they’ve received nationwide since the death of Officer Francis.
Now, they are waiting to see what happens to the suspects in court, including one who’d slipped through the cracks.
The mayor added, “Unfortunate situation. In a small town, you don’t think this going to happen, but it does.”
We also reached out for comment from Judge William Vodrey, the Cuyahoga County Judge who issued a warrant weeks ago.
Court spokesman Darren Toms said the judge can’t comment on a pending case.
But, Toms added, “Court records show that there was a capias in effect for Mr. Johnson. It was issued out of the arraignment room for a separate case on August 25, 2021, (CR-21-661962-B) when Mr. Johnson failed to show for his arraignment. With that capias in effect, Judge Vodrey continued with the pre-trial portion of the other case (653557-B). On January 20, 2022, the Judge ordered a pre-trial hearing for February 7, 2022, in which all parties were to appear. When Mr. Johnson again failed to appear, Judge Vodrey issued a second capias, this one for his case.”
Meanwhile, late Tuesday, Medina County Prosecutor Forrest Thompson said a grand jury there also had indicted one of the three suspects involved in the officer Francis cases for failure to obey the signal of law enforcement and receiving stolen property.