Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Brother: 'I do not blame police'

Man shot after waving gun at cops

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HEBRON - The brother of a 42-year-old man shot by deputies Monday night said he doesn't fault the Boone County Sheriff's Department.

"I'm not saying I would have fired under the same circumstances, but I do not blame the police," said Cliff Murphy. "They just acted as they were trained."

He said he was just 15 feet away when a deputy shot his brother, who was drunk, and waving a gun in the direction of three officers. Lee Murphy was shot once. Cliff Murphy said the bullet went through his brother's lung and out his back.

Air Care flew him to University Hospital, where officials Tuesday wouldn't release his condition. He is expected to live, his brother said.

Lee Murphy is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, a felony that carries a penalty of one to five years on each count. His bond is set at $100,000.

The deputy who fired the shot, Sgt. Jim Hill, has been placed on mandatory administrative leave while the shooting is investigated. Boone County Commonwealth's Attorney Linda Tally Smith said her office is reviewing the shooting but that preliminary reports indicate it was justified.

Sheriff Michael Helmig agreed.

"The preliminary investigation indicates that this is a justifiable shooting," Helmig said. "While we value our positions as the preservers of life, there comes those times when, put in the position, we must act accordingly. Unfortunately for all involved, Mr. Murphy put us in that position."

The standoff began when deputies were called at 10:30 p.m. Monday to the home at 1940 Elijah Creek Road because Lee Murphy was arguing in the side yard with his estranged wife, Mary Jean Murphy.

He ran into the house when he saw cruisers, leaving his wife outside with deputies, according to officials.

What followed was a 11/2-hour standoff with deputies. Tom Scheben, spokesman for the department, said Lee Murphy would walk out of the house with a handgun, talk to deputies, and then go back inside.

Cliff Murphy said his brother told deputies he was going into the house to drink Pepsi - "because he didn't want to die thirsty"- before walking back outside and waving a gun at them.

Scheben said Lee Murphy appeared to be trying to taunt deputies into shooting him.

"At one point he came outside and asked (deputies) to shoot him," Scheben said. "We told him we were not there to shoot."

Scheben said deputies had requested a beanbag shotgun and Taser from nearby airport police, but that deputies were not in the position to use those weapons when Lee Murphy pointed a gun at them.

Cliff Murphy said his brother isn't normally a violent person, and that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time he was shot.

"I feel like I was the only person in my family using their brain last night," he said.

Cliff Murphy said his brother was separated from his wife and lived alone in the rented home on Elijah Creek. The couple's three children, all under the age of 8, were at a grandparent's house at the time of the shooting.

Boone County court records show Lee and Mary Jean Murphy had filed for divorce. There is a custody hearing scheduled in the case on Friday. Lee Murphy has asked for temporary custody of his children.

Cliff Murphy said his brother and his wife got together on Memorial Day to try to "work things out."



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