CANTON —City police are investigating the disappearance of a man last seen New Year’s Day while being chased by an officer.

Ja’Ron Nero, 23, was last seen scaling a fence as he fled police following a domestic dispute.

Police are still looking for him.

So are family members who say law enforcement isn’t trying hard enough to find him and he’s likely in danger, hurt or even dead.

“We just want him found. Dead or alive,” said his aunt, Lashawn Ajamu of Cleveland. “My main concern is, they had all these police officers chasing him and they even had a police dog ... How did they allow him to get out of their sight? Where were their body cameras?”

The chase

Nero was the suspect when police were called to the domestic dispute. He was involved in a fight with his children’s mother and another man at an apartment in the 700 block of Alan Page Drive SE, part of the Skyland Terrace Apartments complex.

Police and family versions of the incident differ. But both agree Nero ran as police arrived.

The body camera from the last officer to see Nero recorded the chase.

In the footage, supplied to The Canton Repository through a public records request, the arriving officer runs past apartment buildings and twice yells, “Get on the ground now!” A man in a red jacket runs, scales a fence and runs toward a wooded area lining the Nimishillen Creek.

A few police cruisers can be seen across the creek on a road.

A voice over the radio asks the officer, “Did he cross?”

The officer with the body camera responds, “Negative. He’s in the treeline.” Then he says another officer is “headed right at him.”

Minutes later, a voice on the police radio says, “I seriously doubt he went into the water. It’s pretty high and running fast. We’re on the north side of the creek. (We’ll) see if we can get eyes on him.”

Police Capt. Dave Davis said officers at the scene were not able to find Nero. They called for a police dog, which also could not locate him.

Davis said Nero’s mother filed a missing person’s report Jan. 14, two weeks after the incident. She told officers she had not seen her son since Christmas Day. She also cited “police negligence and misconduct,” according to the report.

The search

Four days later, nearly three dozen officers returned to the scene, split into two groups and scoured the area, covering 75 to 100 acres of land over the course of several hours, according to Davis. The search went from Nimishillen Creek west to Allen Avenue SE and from the apartment complex to the railroad tracks.

The officers found no trace of Nero, Davis said.

“We searched the entire area of Nimishillen Creek in the southeast part of the city near Cherry Avenue, Sherrick and the surrounding wooded area around the creek with negative results,” Davis said.

On Tuesday, about 20 of Nero’s family members and friends returned to the area. Despite bitter cold weather, the group searched unsuccessfully for three hours.

Ajamu said she and her family cannot imagine what happened to Nero after the police saw him last.

“It could be a lot of things,” she said, adding “We know that he was being chased by the police. ... When do the police stop chasing someone? He did not have a weapon, he did not have a gun ... From what we were told, again, the police did not look for him.”

Abraham Bonowitz, a family friend who joined the search from Columbus, questions whether police have been doing enough to find Nero.

“Up until today the family has felt like no one was taking this seriously. That they just gave up the chase on Jan. 1 is puzzling. Nobody has heard from Ja’Ron since,” Bonowitz said.

“The family has a lot of fear that he got into the water. We think someone needs to take a boat down the creek, all the way to Dover Dam if necessary.”

Davis said Wednesday police are continuing to investigate Nero’s disappearance.

He asked anyone with information about the whereabouts of Nero to call detectives at 330-489-3144.