Sunday, September 03, 2000

Drivers may help explain why officer, boy died

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The driver of the white Cadillac called 911 on his cellular phone.

        A red car just hit me, he said. I'm chasing it down Colerain Avenue and there's a lot of commotion out here.

[photo] Len Mueller of Northside visits the Cincinnati Police Memorial on Saturday, a day after Officer Kevin Crayon was dragged to his death by a 12-year-old driver in Mount Airy.
(Tony Jones photos)
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        The call was one of a dozen that dispatchers handled early Friday during the chaos in Mount Airy that ended with the deaths of Cincinnati Police Officer Kevin Crayon and 12-year-old Courtney Mathis.

        But this call would turn out to be crucial — after investigators figured out Officer Crayon's body actually landed underneath the Cadillac.

        The dispatcher told the caller to wait at the scene.

        He didn't.

        Neither did a woman who had been sitting in her Chevrolet Cavalier at the intersection of North Bend Road, where Officer Crayon fell and died.

        But both drivers have finally come forward, police said Saturday.

        The drivers' names were not released, and police would not say what information they provided.

        They hope that the drivers — and other witnesses — will help answer a number of questions:

        • What Courtney wanted with a paper funnel, the kind used to pour oil into a car. Courtney asked for one at the United Dairy Farmers store shortly before he was confronted by Officer Crayon.

        • Why a seventh-grader with no criminal record was driving a car — and refused to obey Officer Crayon's commands to stop the car.

        • What made Officer Crayon put his hands inside the boy's car — a dangerous move that officers are cautioned against making.

        The incident started a little after 12:30 a.m., when Officer Crayon remarked in a Mount Airy convenience store that Courtney looked too young to be driving. He went outside and asked the boy for his driver's license.

How it happened
        When the boy started backing out erratically in a parking lot where other people — including children — were gathered, the officer tried to stop him, Chief Thomas Streicher has said.

        Hanging on to the boy's car, the officer was dragged more than 800 feet down Colerain Avenue. At some point, he freed his right hand, drew his gun and shot the boy in the chest. That's when the officer fell from the car and, according to dispatch tapes, the Cadillac driver gave chase.

        Courtney made it to his apartment, collapsed on the living-room floor and said he had been shot by a police officer. He died a little more than four hours later.

[photo] Community thoughts are expressed on Colerain Avenue, near the site of Officer Crayon's death.
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        Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Carl Parrott could not be reached for comment Saturday on preliminary autopsy results. Police have not released details about causes of death, except to say that Officer Crayon sustained severe head trauma and Courtney was shot once.

        Officer Crayon's picture was posted on the Cincinnati Police Division's Web site: . The 40-year-old officer who wore badge No. 374 became the 97th Cincinnati officer to be killed in the line of duty since the first in 1846.

        Services for both Officer Crayon and Courtney will be at Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church this week.

        A group of officers' spouses spent time Saturday afternoon cutting navy-blue ribbon they hope to see soon on lapels throughout Greater Cincinnati.

        Members of the Fraternal Order of Police Family Auxiliary have 6,000 ribbons and pins ready to sell at Monday's Reds game.

        All proceeds will go to Officer Crayon's family, including his three teen-agers. A similar effort after the December 1997 deaths of Officer Daniel Pope and Spc. Ronald Jeter earned $11,000.

        “It's not really special ribbon or anything,” said Leslie Keller-Biehl, wife of Lt. Col. Rick Biehl, a Cincinnati assistant chief. “It's not special until it's cut and put on your shirt.”

In the Line of Duty, a special section on Officer Crayon

- Drivers may help explain why officer, boy died
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