Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Officer cleared in fatal shooting

No federal charges in motorist's death

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Cincinnati police officer will not face federal charges for killing an unarmed motorist last year.

        The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday it has closed its eight-month investigation into Officer Brent McCurley's shooting of Michael Carpenter.

        Prosecutors concluded they did not have enough evidence the officer used more force than he could have reasonably thought was necessary, which would have been a violation of Mr. Carpenter's civil rights.

No unnecessary force
        Officer McCurley did not use unnecessary force considering his training, experience and the circumstances of the shooting, said Sharon Zealey, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

        She said she met Monday with Mr. Carpenter's parents, Fred and Elsie Carpenter, to tell them the decision.

        Mr. Carpenter's family has a lawsuit pending against the city and police.

        Officer McCurley and Officer Michael Miller stopped Mr. Carpenter in Northside for expired license tags on March 19, 1999.

        Police say the 30-year-old Mount Airy man refused to cooperate. Officer McCurley started shooting when Mr. Carpenter began dragging Officer Miller, whose arm was in the car, and appeared to be backing toward Officer McCurley.

        The officers testified later they feared for their lives. Mr. Carpenter was shot in the back of his head.

        Investigations done internally and by the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office ruled the shooting justified.

        A separate analysis by the city's Office of Municipal Investigation called the shooting unjustified and recommended disciplinary action against Officer McCurley, who fired the fatal shot.

Changes called for
        The Citizens Police Review Panel also called the shooting unjustified and called for changes in police policy and discipline regarding use of firearms and traffic stops.

        Officer McCurley received a written reprimand in December and was ordered to receive 40 hours of retraining because of several tactical errors leading to the shooting. Officer Miller resigned from the force.


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