NEW PHILADELPHIA -- A Newcomerstown police officer is facing charges after his story that he was shot by two people in a black Geo Tracker during a traffic stop unraveled under investigation.
Bryan J. Eubanks, 37, a 14-year officer with the Newcomerstown Police Department, admitted under questioning Tuesday that he had made up the story to cover up a failed suicide attempt.
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Tuscarawas County Sheriff Orvis Campbell said Eubanks could face multiple charges, including inducing panic and theft, because he went to a hospital for treatment of his injury and reported it as work-related. Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Ryan Styer will determine what Eubanks will face.
Newcomerstown Police Chief Gary Holland said Eubanks was terminated as an officer Tuesday.
"At the end of the day we had to do our job, and he'll be held accountable just like anybody else will," Campbell said of the officer.
The shooting incident occurred April 11. Shortly after 10 a.m., Eubanks radioed in to his office that he had made a traffic stop involving a black Geo Tracker on the bridge over the Tuscarawas River at S. River Street. He then claimed that he had been shot in the right forearm by a passenger in the vehicle.
Once authorities were notified, it produced what Campbell called "a gigantic response."
Deputies from Tuscarawas, Guernsey and Coshocton counties, officers from Newcomerstown and Uhrichsville, troopers with the Ohio Highway Patrol and federal officials from the FBI, ATF and the U.S. Marshal's Services were involved in a search for suspects, he said. He estimated that about 100 officers were involved that first day.
"We had a house surrounded in Coshocton County from one of the leads, so it was quite a response," Campbell said. "However, the outcome of the case is not as we had hoped."
A potential suspect -- identified by Eubanks -- came in for questioning but was cleared, Campbell said.
As the investigation continued, the evidence did not support the officer's story.
A key piece of evidence was a license plate reader on Eubank's cruiser. It logged all the cars that passed the cruiser while it was parked on the bridge.
Using that information, a team from the sheriff's office tracked down the owners of all those vehicles. Four key witnesses said that there was no other vehicle on the bridge but the cruiser. They saw Eubanks standing alone on the bridge.
"It put together a picture that didn't add up," Campbell said.
Eubanks said he shot himself with a 40-caliber weapon that he owned. He said he did not use his service weapon. The weapon used in the shooting has not been recovered, Campbell said. No bullets were found at the scene.
The sheriff then addressed the question of why Eubanks shot himself.
"What we know is that the officer confessed today that he has been struggling emotionally with some things since he recently worked on a very serious felony case," the sheriff said.
The case was the murder last year of Jane Plants of Newcomerstown. Her son Charles has been charged.
"He (Eubanks) states that he has been having some health issues since that, that he has not been sleeping well and not doing well," Campbell said. "He cooperated. He wanted this to end today. He gave us a statement, both written and recorded, saying that he made it up, that his intention was to harm himself the entire time."
Eubanks was released to his family and will seek immediate mental health treatment. "At the time of the interview, he looked like he needed it," the sheriff said.
Asked about the officer's demeanor during questioning, Campbell said, "Like a man scared to lose everything he ever cared about, from employment to family. When you back yourself into a corner with so many deceptions and the risk is so great, it's a very tough thing to come back and admit."