Tuesday, December 9, 1997
911 boss admits error likely

Police look for answers in slayings

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Daniel Pope
Ronald Jeter
Confusion over the shootings and suicide reported within minutes in about the same area apparently resulted in the miscommunication, said Debbie Buckley, a fire dispatch supervisor.

A Cincinnati fire dispatch supervisor acknowledged Monday that a 911 operator ''most likely'' erred in her handling of a call that two Cincinnati police officers were gunned down.

Two 911 calls came in at 11:59 p.m. Friday - with one caller saying officers were dying in front of him. But it took until 12:46 a.m. Saturday for a frantic officer to find the officers and call for ambulances.

Plainclothes officers Daniel Pope, 35, and Spc. Ronald Jeter, 34, died that morning at University Hospital. The shooter, Alonzo Davenport, 20, a suspect they were trying to arrest on a domestic violence warrant, fled and committed suicide a few blocks away.

Timothy Canady wipes away tears as he stands with his wife, Vernita, at the police memorial on Ezzard Charles Drive.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
Typical response time from the closest rescue station in Corryville to West Hollister Street in Clifton Heights, where the shootings occurred, is three minutes or less, she said.

Authorities think that after the officers were let into Mr. Davenport's apartment, Officer Pope moved forward to be the arresting officer, City Manager John Shirey said. But there was a struggle with Mr. Davenport.

''We believe that Officer Pope was shot first,'' Mr. Shirey said. ''We're not sure there weren't two (officers) involved in the struggle.''

The officers were in the living room when they were shot. The shooter and two others in the room fled, leaving Marvin Jones, who was staying at the apartment, to call 911.

Mrs. Buckley's department - where ''everybody's just in shock right now'' - is leaving the investigation to the police division, she said.

The communications section has forwarded tapes and documents to police investigators for a review expected within a week, police spokesman Lt. Tim Schoch said.

Hamilton County coroner's office spokesman Terry Daly said he can't say with certainty whether a quicker response would have saved the officers, who were each shot at close range in the back of the head.

A sobbing Angela Mills is arraigned on a charge of failing to report a crime.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
One of the few people who knows exactly what happened inside the apartment sobbed in court Monday as she was arraigned on a charge of failure to report a crime.

Judge Timothy Black of Hamilton County Municipal Court set Angela M. Mills' bond at $100,000, 40 times higher than the maximum fine for that kind of misdemeanor.

A 14-year-old girl who also fled faces a similar charge in juvenile court.

Defense attorneys said Ms. Mills knew she wasn't leaving the two mortally wounded officers alone when she left.

''She just ran. She was scared,'' said Hamilton County Public Defender Lou Strigari. ''She knew someone else had already called (for help).''

But the fact that Mr. Jones had called 911 moments after the officers were shot apparently was not enough to absolve her of a duty to report the crime she had witnessed.

''The statute requires when you are aware that a felony has been committed or a death, you are required to call,'' said Charlie Rubenstein, chief assistant Cincinnati prosecutor.

Police resecure the apartment at 23 Hollister St. after members of the killer's family and a witness went in Monday to collect some of Alonzo Davenport's belongings.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
Mr. Strigari considers the bond too high for a low-level misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

''It's pretty outrageous,'' he said. ''She doesn't even have a record, from what I understand. . . . It's out of character, but that's because of the circumstances.''

Judge Black said he honored the request of homicide investigators when he set the high bond. ''She is alleged to have fled, so she is a flight risk,'' Judge Black said after court.

Ms. Mills could be released if her family were to post 10 percent of the $100,000, Judge Black said.

The 23-year-old woman, known as ''Oleo,'' is due in court again Dec. 17. She is scheduled for a pretrial hearing before Judge Black, but Mr. Strigari said she likely will plead guilty to the fourth-degree misdemeanor.

Families hurting

Mr. Davenport's friends and family continued to struggle Monday to understand why he would shoot two officers.

Alonzo Davenport
''I feel sorry for the police officers' families, but our family's hurting, too,'' said his girlfriend Bridgette Blackmon, 19. She and Mr. Davenport have a 10-month-old daughter, Lanae. Ms. Blackmon described him as a caring father.

She had filed the domestic violence complaint that led to the warrant officers tried to serve that night. For weeks, she said, she has regretted filing the report, which stemmed from an October incident in which Mr. Davenport choked her and pulled her hair during a fight.

That was the only time he was ever violent with her, she said, adding she already had planned to drop charges. Mr. Davenport had also had other domestic violence charges filed against him by another girlfriend.

Ms. Blackmon last saw him Friday night, less than an hour before the shootings. After work, she'd stopped at the Hollister Street apartment to visit.

''We were all sitting around, watching TV, joking,'' she recalled Monday. On her way home, shortly after 11 p.m., she gave Mr. Davenport and Mr. Jones a ride to 14th and Vine streets, where they were going to visit a club.

''He was supposed to call me later, and he never called,'' Ms. Blackmon said. ''He was in an excellent mood. His last words to me were, 'Smooch me.' ''

She later learned from Mr. Jones that the pair decided to go back to the apartment. They were there with Ms. Mills and the teen-age girl when officers knocked at the door.

''Lonnie opened the door and saw two plain-dressed people,'' she said, recounting what she's been told. ''That's when they pulled their badges and said they were police officers and were looking for Alonzo Davenport.

''But Alonzo, not wanting to go to jail, said he was Keith something.'' The officers talked to Mr. Jones and asked ''who was selling weed,'' and took a joint away from him. Then they turned to Mr. Davenport and told him they knew who he was.

''One grabbed his right arm and one grabbed the left arm,'' she said. ''They saw the gun in his waist and one of the officers said he had a gun.''

Mr. Jones told her he ran into the bathroom during the confusion. When he heard two shots a few seconds later, he began crying, assuming Lonnie was dead.

Then, he told her, Mr. Jones heard Alonzo Davenport curse and leave the apartment.

A routine task

Officer Pope and Spc. Jeter were in the middle of their 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift when they parked their undercover car and went to accomplish a routine task just before midnight Friday.

The officers were part of an elite Criminal Apprehension Team, officers who generally serve felony warrants to some of the city's most elusive suspects.

With a backlog of more than 119,000 people with outstanding warrants, the officers across the city had plenty to serve.

The felony domestic violence warrant that led the officers to Mr. Davenport's apartment Friday night was one of seven warrants pending against him.

''Felony domestic violence is a very serious offense,'' Lt. Schoch said. ''And if gone unchecked, they lead to homicides.''

But the warrant also was typical of the ones Officer Pope and Spc. Jeter served on a daily basis. As with most police officers killed in the line of duty, their normal day took a turn for the worst in an instant.

''This isn't the first time this has happened, but you always hope it's the last time,'' City Safety Director Kent Ryan said. Losing an officer is never easy, he said, but he takes comfort in the prayers and support the community has shown.

''We are fewer in numbers today,'' he said. ''But we are greater in spirit.''

Kristen DelGuzzi and Laura Goldberg contributed to this report.

Today's report

Updated funeral information
Shock, grief and guilt Laura Pulfer column
City thanks slain heroes
Killer's family visits his home
Many officers limited in experience
Forces across Tristate take heed
Names to be added to memorial

Monday's report

Argument preceded shooting
Tragedy puts face on job Cliff Radel column
Families lean on faith, memories
Friends, acquaintances mourn
Grief stays, say families who know
Police deaths declining

Sunday's report

Community mourns fallen officers
Suspect's family: He was 'respectful'
Sequence of events
Officers highly regarded
Officers deal with sorrow, job's risks
Chief's message: 'Take care of each other'
Hollister St. residents shocked