Firefighter under investigation in Jackson Township

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

The Jackson Township board of trustees have appointed an independent party to investigate the off-duty conduct of a member of the fire department.

At a recent meeting, trustees Stephen Bowshier and Jim Rauck authorized former Ohio State Highway Patrolman John Allard to investigate an alleged domestic violence incident regarding firefighter David Scott Burris. Trustee David Burris recused himself from the action as he is David Scott Burris’ father.

According to an incident report submitted by the Grove City Division of Police, their officers responded to a call on March 7 from the daughter of Burris’ partner who alleged Burris was “drunk and pushing her mother around.” According to the police report, Burris was also alleged to have pushed the daughter when she told him to stop. Burris denied the allegations to the officer, stating “nobody touched one another.”

The police placed Burris under arrest due to “visible abrasions” on his partner’s left arm. Upon his arrest, the report states his partner refused to cooperate with the officers.

Franklin County Municipal Court records indicate he was released on his own recognizance the following day, has retained Samuel Shamansky as his primary attorney, and has pled not guilty to the charges. The Messenger reached out to Burris’ attorney for comment but has not received a response as of press time.

According to Township Administrator Shane Farnsworth, Burris has been placed on paid administrative leave until further notice.

Bowshier said the township hired Allard to conduct the investigation instead of Fire Chief Randy Little upon the advice of their legal counsel. Lynn Bruno, the township’s public information officer, said she does not know how much the independent investigation will cost at this time.

The March 7 incident is the third off-duty incident that Burris has reportedly been involved in within the past 19 months. In August of 2017, Burris was pulled over for a driving infraction and later cited for suspicion of operating a vehicle while under the influence.

Several weeks later, he received a disorderly conduct citation from the Grove City Division of Police. According to municipal court records, Burris’ disorderly conduct charge was dismissed and he pled guilty to reckless operation in 2018.

At the time of the August 2017 incident, Burris was the township’s fire marshal. After subsequent internal investigations by Little, he was reassigned at the end of December 2017.

In related news, the trustees authorized Little at the April 2 board meeting to investigate the off-duty conduct of two firefighters. Little said he cannot comment on the matter at this time.

The meeting also saw the promotion of Luke Smith, a 16-year veteran of the department, to the rank of captain. Little said Smith’s integrity “sets an example” for the rest of the department and added that he was “proud to have him on the leadership team.”

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