Upper Arlington News

Internal review finds officer not at fault in crash

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An internal investigation by the Upper Arlington Police Division concluded that a local officer was not to blame for a traffic crash last fall that killed six.

A report by UAPD Lt. Paul Schaumburg agrees with earlier findings by the Columbus Division of Police's Accident Investigation Unit and the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office that UAPD officer Shawn Paynter was "not at fault" for an October 2013 crash that resulted in the deaths of Eid Badi Shahad, 39, of West Columbus, his wife and four of their daughters, ages 2 to 16.

"Officer Paynter was responding to what he believed to be an armed robbery with his emergency lights and siren activated," Schaumburg stated in an internal affairs investigation report released June 20. "For reasons that will never be known, Eid Badi Shahad entered the intersection against a red traffic signal.

"Officer Paynter attempted to avoid the collision by steering to the rear of Shahad's vehicle, but Shahad unexpectedly stopped in the intersection. It is my opinion that Officer Paynter operated his vehicle with 'due regard for the safety of all persons and property upon the highway' as required by our policy and state law."

Paynter, a UAPD officer since 2008, was responding to the report of an armed robbery at a West Henderson Road McDonald's when his cruiser struck the Shahad family's Toyota Corolla at the intersection of Fishinger Road and Riverside Drive at 1:33 a.m. Oct. 18, 2013.

According to the CPD's Accident Investigation Unit, Paynter was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident and reached speeds of up to 86 mph before crashing into the driver's side of the Shahad vehicle at a speed of between 45 and 49 mph.

None of the occupants of the Shahad vehicle were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident and all were killed instantly, investigators determined. The family, which had come to America via Syria as refugees, had reportedly spent the evening of Oct. 17 at the Muslim festival of Eid ul Adha.

Paynter suffered head injuries in the crash and was placed on desk duty after returning to work roughly a month after the accident. He since has returned to street patrols.

Police Chief Brian Quinn did recommend counseling for Paynter related to his failure to wear a seat belt at the time of the accident. No further disciplinary action was administered.

Quinn declined further comment on the case last week. Paynter's attorney, Russ Carnahan, did not return calls seeking comment about the report.

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