CUYAHOGA FALLS — A man shot following a domestic incident that turned into a standoff on Cook Street Thursday will lose vision in his right eye, but will recover from his injuries, his mother said.
In the meantime, the investigation of the incident is being turned over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said Police Chief Jack Davis, who declined to identify the officer involved.
Billie Lowers, mother of 39-year-old Robert Horn-Epling, said she and her son’s twin brother were in communication with him by cell phone during the standoff. She said her son was high on methamphetamine and that she had urged police to be patient until her son sobered up so that he would be easier to deal with.
She also said her son was not armed with a real firearm.
"If they saw a gun, they should have known it was a BB gun," she said. "My son was high on meth ... just let him come down from off this high and everything will be OK."
She said Friday morning that her son was in intensive care at Akron City Hospital and had not yet learned he has lost his vision in that eye.
"They repaired his eye, but he lost the sight in his eye. It’s permanent," she said. "They had guns on him for almost two hours and then SWAT comes in and they shot him. That was a kill shot ... they were trying to kill him."
Davis said the officer who fired the shot was a member of the Cuyahoga Falls police department but he would not say whether the officer was a member of the SWAT team called to the scene. He said the officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Cuyahoga Falls police don’t have body cameras.
According to a report on the incident, police received a 911 call at about 7:15 a.m. reporting a domestic dispute between Horn-Epling, who has a previous domestic violence conviction, and his girlfriend.
In the roughly 40-second call, a neighbor said the couple was outside arguing.
Horn’s girlfriend later told police that he had struck her in the face, choked her and tried to drag her back inside the house, according to the report.
"She did have redness and scratches on her neck, chest and face," the report states. "Horn then threatened to shoot himself and Cuyahoga Falls Police officers."
The report states that during the standoff Horn "pointed a handgun at officers and was subsequently shot."
Davis said the department’s policy on barricaded suspects is to contain the individual.
"This was not a situation where we were going to storm the house or anything. There was no hostage-type situation. This was just making sure the subject was contained because he was armed. The plan is obviously to talk to him and try to get it to end peacefully," he said.
Horn’s twin brother Mike Epling-Horn, who said he was texting to Robert during the standoff from down the street, said he had asked police to let him go closer to the house so his brother could see him.
"I texted him to know that I was there," Mike said, adding he felt his brother was afraid police would "beat on him like cops do."
"He was strung out — he didn’t want to come outside. As soon as he would have seen me, he would felt safe and walked right out of that house because he would have known that I wouldn’t let those cops lay their hands on him."
Davis said he did not have information on the type of weapon that Horn-Epling had.
"We had officers on the scene who had seen the gun," Davis said. "We had it identified as a weapon and we were even told by people on the scene that he had a weapon and during conversations with him, he indicated he had a weapon."
Davis said the last police shooting in the city came after a double homicide in 2004. He said a man on 10th Street shot two female family members and was killed after either pointing a gun at police or shooting at police.
Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or firstname.lastname@example.org.