Young black child and white man

Columbus activists submitted the following letter to Tyack’s office on Thursday

Dear Mr. Tyack:

On October 12th of 2022, 36-year-old Krieg Butler Sr. mercilessly shot Sinzae Reed, 13, in the Wedgewood Apartment Complex multiple times. He then fled the scene of the incident, leaving the youth for dead. At the time of the murder, Mr. Butler was on probation for a domestic violence dispute which, according to all available interpretations of Ohio law, should have precluded Mr. Butler from owning a firearm in the first place.

According to reporting by ABC6, Butler was arrested for Sinzae’s murder on October 13th but was released on your office’s recommendation on October 19th due to the assailant’s having claimed self-defense. The thinking it requires to assume that a grown man can get out of a vehicle and, shoot a juvenile, get back into his car and drive away, then claim self-defense only after having been apprehended by law enforcement is reminiscent of the magical thinking applied by your predecessor in its glaring failure to defend the rights of vulnerable populations in Columbus. As such, Sinzae’s family and an ever-growing coalition of community leaders, activists, and members demand the following: 

1) The immediate arrest of Krieg A. Butler Sr. For once, the Columbus Division of Police did its due diligence and arrested Butler for Sinzae’s murder almost immediately after the incident occurred. Whether Butler’s release was due to a legal application of the ill-conceived and malignant “Stand Your Ground'” law in Ohio is immaterial: all known witness testimony indicates that Butler’s actions demonstrated malicious intent and knowledge that he’d done wrong. Immediately after Butler’s release, he’s reported as having harassed the family and community with messages spuriously connecting Sinzae to violent acts to which he – a child – was never connected until Mr. Butler was released from his holding cell. This sort of harassment alone indicates that his release was premature and should be corrected.

2) Institute a process by which to expeditiously remove and replace attorneys and policies instituted by your predecessor, Ron O’Brien. You were elected in large part due to a groundswell of support garnered by promising to right the wrongs instituted or enabled by his predecessor, Ron O’Brien, over the previous twenty years. Recent statements made by your office have delegated responsibility for this case to grand jury deliberations administered by Ms. Marla Farbacher, who, like the majority of your staffed attorneys, was hired by your predecessor. It’s our firm belief that the culture set by the previous prosecutor has hamstrung any movement toward meaningful reform within your office. This culture needs to change before any substantial progress is made.  

3) Your Resignation. It’s well known that your health has been at issue since your stroke during your last election campaign. As someone who’s served in various elated judicial and litigious positions in both private and public practices since the mid-’70’s, It’s our belief that you’ve both given an ample amount of your life to service and may, because of said longevity, lost sight of the needs of the people you serve during that time. Everyone either dies a hero or lives long enough to be a villain. You have had ample time to do both.

You were elected to your current position with the understanding that you’d bring both the institutional knowledge and real-world experience and sentiment to meaningfully reform a system many of us have known to be dysfunctional for a generation. Given that the typical pattern of Columbus police killing someone under questionable circumstances has resumed in full force since the end of pandemic restrictions without any notable action from your office, your reported failing health since the beginning of your campaign for the office you now hold, plus the utter failure to implement even initial steps to repair the problems you were elected to correct in the first place, we think it’s time for you to relinquish your position. 

4) All branches of government within the City of Columbus should issue an apology to Sinzae’s family for dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, Columbus City Council President Shannon G. Hardin, City Council chair of Public Safety Shayla D. Favor, and City of Columbus Public Safety Director Robert W. Clark should all immediately issue said an apology to Sinzae’s mother, Megan Reed, sister Makayla Nichols, and the host of sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles who’ve clamored for answers about this egregious miscarriage of justice.  

The entirety of the City of Columbus’ governmental apparatus is responsible for the safety of our children. So far, they have deflected or remained silent. This must be corrected immediately.

5) Request that the Department of Justice to investigate Sinza Reed’s murder as a hate crime.

Starting with the death of 15-year-old Fred Cruz in 1970, The Columbus Division of Police has averaged the murder (or “questionable killing”) of a Columbus youth, usually Black, often from the back, and usually juvenile, every three months. Sinzae’s murder is the first case of a civilian-to-civilian incident of a similar nature by an adult white male of a Black Columbus child since the police-to-civilian murders of Black males resumed (after a COVID-related hiatus) of Casey Goodson, Jr. and Andre Hill in December of 2020. 

Sinzae’s murder by Butler is the first of these instances to be recorded of a civilian engaging in this sort of crime since groups began calling for pattern-and-practice investigations of Columbus Police in 1999. As the 2021 call for a similar investigation by the Columbus Police Accountability Project was preempted by the current Mayor’s office last year, signatories to this letter urge that at least this obviously egregious crime be investigated to the full extent of federal law.


The People