Former Highland County deputy sheriff Jonathon “Dustin” Malone pled not guilty to one count of reckless homicide, a third-degree felony, at a bill of information hearing Thursday in the Highland County Common Pleas Court.
Joshua Engel, the defendant’s attorney, said Malone was involved in a vehicle chase with the victim, Richard J. Poulin, 58, Hillsboro, after victime allegedly committed a traffic sign violation. Engel said the chase lasted “at least” 20 minutes, starting in the northern area of Highland County and leading to the downtown Hillsboro area.
Engel said that at the end of the chase, the victim was stopped his vehicle at 5760 U.S. Route 62, just south of the city limits near the Hillsboro Church of God at around 2 a.m., but would not exit the vehicle after multiple commands to do so. Engel said that at that time Malone walked up to the victim’s vehicle with his baton in his right hand and his firearm in his left hand. Engel said that Malone was right-handed and as the officer smashed the victim’s vehicle window with the baton in his right hand, the firearm in his left hand discharged with a bullet striking Poulin.
“There was no intention to pull the trigger,” Engel said.
Engel also said that there were no allegations that the victim threatened the officer with a weapon while he was pulled over along the side of U.S. 62.
At Thursday’s hearing, Malone voluntarily waived his prosecution by indictment and agreed to be charged with the bill of information.
The bill of information reads: “I, Anthony Pierson, assistant Ohio Attorney General sitting by appointment, says by way of information that on or about July 17, 2022, and in Highland County, Ohio, Jonathan Malone did recklessly cause the death of Richard Poulin, in violation of ORC 2903.041, reckless homicide, a felony of the third degree, and against the peace and dignity of the state of Ohio.”
Malone was ordered to be under house arrest and was released after the hearing under his own recognizance. He remains on administrative leave from the sheriff’s office.
A pretrial hearing via Zoom was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, an in-person pretrial hearing for 2 p.m. May 31, and a trial hearing at 10 a.m. Aug. 7.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.