After legal fight, Powell police release records related to Zach Smith case

n this Sept. 16, 2017 photo, Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith watches before the start of an NCAA college football game against Army in Columbus, Ohio. (Marvin Fong//The Plain Dealer via AP)

COLUMBUS – After initially declining to release the case file related to a 2015 domestic incident involving now-former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith, Powell Police this week released hundreds of documents, audio recordings and police body camera footage.

The release of documents comes after The Columbus Dispatch filed a legal complaint against the City of Powell in the state’s Court of Claims challenging the city’s refusal to release information.

A 10 Investigates reporter went to city hall Tuesday in an attempt to talk to Police Chief Gary Vest. A city spokeswoman said he was unavailable and the city would not be making any further comments.

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Previously, Vest told 10 Investigates that his department did not pursue charges against Zach Smith in 2015 because it could not win the case in court.

The body camera footage along with audio recordings of police interviews and hundreds of pages of police records, text messages and court records detail how Powell Police and the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office investigated claims made by Courtney Smith that she had endured abuse by Zach Smith.

While Zach Smith was not charged following an October 2015 incident in which Courtney Smith called Powell Police, detectives can be heard on audio recordings and body camera footage saying that they believed Courtney Smith had been a part of an abusive and “toxic relationship.” They also acknowledged that they had “some evidence” but their case would be complicated by the fact that Courtney was not alleging “any injury” related to the October 2015 call to Powell Police. She did detail and provide evidence related to previous incidents of alleged abuse, the records show.

“It basically comes down to her words versus his word. We do have some evidence… but it comes down to a lot of ‘he said, she said,’” Det. Ryan Pentz said in an audio recording with Courtney Smith’s father. “It comes down to what part of the story we can validate.”

The records released to news outlets this week also included text messages between Courtney Smith and Zach Smith, along with images, audio and cell phone video – including one verbal argument between Courtney and Zach Smith in which Zach can be heard alleging that Courtney Smith hit him. A child can be heard crying in the background.

Zach Smith was fired by The Ohio State University in July after Ohio State learned he had violated a civil protection order and had been charged with trespassing in May. Zach Smith settled those matters in October pleading guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct. He did not respond to a text message seeking comment Tuesday.