Eileen McClory Record-Courier, Kent, Ohio
PORTAGE, Ohio — The Portage County sheriff’s deputy who was set on fire Thursday while arresting a fugitive is out of the hospital after suffering burns on about 20 percent of his body.
Portage County Sheriff David Doak said Monday evening that Sgt. Jim Acklin was released from Akron Children’s Hospital burn unit on Monday afternoon.
When he visited Acklin in the hospital on Sunday, Doak said the deputy was “in good spirits and making some progress.”
“I was over yesterday afternoon and he was in real good spirits,” Doak said Monday morning. The sheriff posted on his office’s Facebook page Sunday, after he visited Acklin in the hospital.
Acklin was able to walk around a little on Sunday and was trying to wean himself off of painkillers he was given. Acklin was hospitalized with burns on about 20 percent of his body, mostly on his hands and arms, Doak said last week.
The sheriff posted on his Facebook page that Acklin “is a very humble guy and doesn’t care for the ‘limelight’… he expressed to me he and his family want to THANK everyone for the texts, phone calls, social media posts, and especially your prayers and well wishes.”
Acklin has served a long and distinguished career with the sheriff’s office and was just 70 days from retirement when he was attacked, Doak said.
Doak said a GoFundMe page has been set up through the Big Creek Search Dog Team, a Painesville-based group Acklin participates in. The group uses trained dogs to perform specialized operations throughout the region. The sheriff’s office is also accepting donations of gas cards, grocery cards and restaurant gift cards for Acklin’s family, as long as they are addressed to Sgt. Jim Acklin, Doak said. The sheriff’s office cannot accept cash.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the deputy. As of Monday morning the fund had surpassed its goal of $5,000.
Acklin was among three deputies and two officers from the Northeast Ohio Medical University police force who were serving felony warrants on a fugitive, Jay E. Brannon, 45, at 6:43 p.m. Thursday after receiving confidential information that he was at a home in the 3900 block on Route 44 in Rootstown.
The officers detained two people outside a garage at the home before entering the garage to confront Brannon. Doak said Brannon ignited a can of flammable liquid and proceeded to make threats that he was going to “kill the cops,” in addition to saying he wanted officers to kill him, according to reports.
Brannon threw the ignited can of flammable liquid at the officers, striking Acklin, who fled outside with his clothing on fire.
Brannon has been charged with five counts of attempted murder, each a first-degree felony, and five counts of arson, each a first-degree felony. He has not yet been indicted for the incident and the charges are pending in Ravenna Municipal Court. If he is indicted, the case will proceed in Portage County Common Pleas Court.
He is being held in the Portage County jail on a $1 million bond.
In online court records, charges linked to Brannon vary, but include burglary, domestic violence, drunk driving, possession of drugs and various others that go back decades.
Brannon has also been charged in two separate cases from January, both of which are currently pending.
On Jan. 27, he allegedly offered a man money to make a false report to law enforcement and was charged with two counts of complicity, one a third-degree felony and the other a fifth-degree felony.
He was also indicted for tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, and forgery, a fifth-degree felony, after allegedly forging documents for a motor vehicle on Jan. 4. The next court date on that charge is Feb. 22 in Judge Becky Doherty’s court.
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