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Ohio fire official pulls gun in road-rage incident

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Columbus arson investigator who ordered a driver out of his car at gunpoint in what police say was a road-rage incident has been suspended for two weeks and stripped of his city-issued firearm.

Officials with the Columbus Fire Division say that Jeffrey Smith, 50, likely will be reassigned from the arson unit after his suspension for abusive and violent behavior, ordered Thursday by Fire Chief Gregory Paxton and Mitchell Brown, the city's public safety director.

Authorities say Smith and a man named Michael Watkins began arguing in January while at a Columbus intersection.

Smith said that Watkins brandished a gun, and that's when Smith said he jumped out of his unmarked city car, pulled his weapon and ordered Watkins out of his car.

Smith handcuffed Watkins and called police, who found a black pellet gun in Watkins' car.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Watkins was sentenced to two months in jail for aggravated menacing. Smith was not charged.

A new city policy in the process of being written when the incident occurred says that only firefighters investigating fire-related crimes may use their weapons.

Future incidents like Smith's could result in more severe punishment, including termination, under the new policy

Smith's supervisor, Capt. Jeff Happ, also was disciplined for not reporting the incident to supervisors until after news reports about it aired. Happ agreed to be removed as head of the arson unit and to be placed back on regular duty.

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