A video obtained by Photography is Not a Crime shows a court security guard approach PINAC correspondent Mike Skidmore and try to snatch his camera before Skidmore punches him repeatedly in the face, prompting the guard to pull out his gun and open fire.
Meanwhile, another security guard pulls Skidmore off the first guard, but Skidmore begins punching him as well as they both fall to the floor.
“Ow, you bit me, motherfucker!” the second guard yells out after Skidmore apparently bites him in the face.
Several more men rush into the room and eventually handcuff Skidmore, a 58-year-old grandfather of 13 who had been accused of “inappropriately touching” a clerk while trying to photograph her name tag.
That was the reason the guards approached him in the first place without saying a word.
However, in their arrest report, they claim that Skidmore had been acting “disorderly” and had been asked to leave, only to refuse.
But it is evident in the video that he had never been ordered to leave.
The report also makes no mention of the gunfire, which a guard describes in the video as being an “accidental discharge,” but is now being reported by the sheriff as being “intentional.”
The video was one recorded from one of four cameras brought into the Richland County Commission meeting on Thursday by citizens, who were planning on voicing their individual concerns to the commission before it announced it was going into closed executive session.
The other three cameras were seized as evidence by Richland County sheriff deputies, who obviously did not realize they forgot to seize a fourth camera.
Skidmore, a former U.S. Marine who spent 30 years as a prison guard before retiring, is currently sitting in jail on a $100,000 bond on a charge of felonious assault on the security guards.
It is not clear from the video whether or not he actually touched the clerk while trying to record her name tag, but if he did, it was incidental, nothing more than maybe a brush on the shoulder.
But it is clear that one of the guards who walked into the room deliberately grabbed Skidmore’s camera in an attempt to take it from him, which is what led to Skidmore to strike him with a left jab, following it up with several more punches.
The obvious question is: Do government officials have more right to deliberately lay their hands on citizens than citizens do to inadvertently touch government officials?
Those screenshots are below as well as a few videos from prior exchanges Skidmore has had with the armed security guards from the Richland County Courthouse, who apparently have a habit of not wearing name tags as well as refusing to state their full names when asked.
In fact, that was the main reason Skidmore was going to address with the commission that day before they told him they had changed the agenda and were going to go into closed session.
“We all had individual concerns we wanted to talk about,” said Randy Shepherd, who his is the man in the video who remains sitting throughout the entire scene as citizens ran out the door and one commissioner hid under the table.
However, the commission told the group that they were going into private closed session, which apparently was a change in the initial agenda.
When Skidmore brought up the fact that county employees were either not wearing name tags or wearing their name tags backwards, the clerk documenting the meeting agreed to turn her name tag around to make her name visible.
That was when Skidmore stood up, walked up to her and bent down with his camera to record her name tag, an act that did not last longer than a second.
However, Richland County Commissioner Marilyn John accused him of inappropriately touching the clerk.
“That is inappropriate,” she said after telling another woman to fetch the security guards. “You just put your hands on one our staff members.”
“Your staff members put hands on the public and that is inappropriate,” Skidmore responded.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about but you just put your hands on one of our staff members,” John said. “That’s inappropriate.”
“Your staff puts hands on the public and that is inappropriate and if you don’t know what I’m talking about you can find out by going and looking it up. Your staff, you pay them, therefore you’re responsible for what they do.”
The pair of security guards then walk in and Skidmore addresses them.
“That security does not have ID, I don’t know who they are,” he said.
Without speaking a word, the guard, Timothy Norris, walked up to Skidmore and grabs his camera.
The two square off for a second or two before Skidmore strikes him several times.
Skidmore then backs up and Norris pulls out his gun, which was when Skidmore stepped towards the Ohio security guard and began punching again.
Norris had the gun pointed to Skidmore’s midsection when it fired, but the bullet ended up lodged in a wall.
The second guard, Charles Kochis, then pulls Skidmore off Norris and they began wrestling on the ground, which was when Skidmore apparently bit him in the face.
The guards, listed as bailiffs in the arrest report, are former Richland County sheriff’s deputies and did not appear at the courthouse until about a year ago, Shepherd said.
“They are called courthouse security and they are basically supposed to make sure nobody brings contraband into the courthouse,” Shepherd said.
“They have guns but no name tags. They’re like a mercenary group.”
Below is the edited video from the incident followed by the entire raw video of the incident, lasting almost an hour, followed by a close-up version of the guard grabbing Skidmore’s camera before pulling out his gun.
Those videos are followed by three videos of Skidmore accompanying Shepherd to conduct a public records request when he was threatened with arrest for recording the public records request.
Also posted below are screenshots of comments made on Facebook following that incident, which is what prompted Richland County sheriff’s deputies to seize his home computer through a search warrant.