Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Police officer tells about being dragged by car

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — Two motorists accused of trying to use their cars to harm a police officer appeared Monday in Middletown Municipal Court, as the officer, David Birk, testified about being dragged 20 feet.

        Judge Mark W. Wall set bail at $50,000 for Shawn Maurice Keys, 22, who was arrested Friday at his home in Dayton, Ohio, in connection with the Sept. 27 incident on 14th Avenue near Elm Street.

        Police allege Mr. Keys tried to run into Officer Birk and his partner, Officer Geoffrey Getter, with his car. The officers were scrambling for safety after another motorist drove away with Officer Birk's arm inside his car.

        Mr. Keys is scheduled for a Nov. 3 court hearing.

        The other suspect is Albert Lattimore, 22, of Middletown. In his case, Judge Wall ordered bail, set previously, to remain at $400,000. The judge also found sufficient evidence to send Mr. Lattimore's case to a Butler County grand jury.

        Both suspects are charged with felonious assault on a police officer. They remained in the city jail Monday.

        Officer Birk testified that he missed nine days of work and still suffers numbness in his right hand as a result of being dragged. He also suffered neck, shoulder and lower back injuries.

        Just before 3 a.m. Sept. 27, police said they noticed Mr. Lattimore driving west on 14th Avenue. Officer Birk had arrested Mr. Lattimore three weeks earlier for driving under suspension, so he stopped him.

        Officer Birk said Mr. Lattimore disregarded four requests to get out of his car. Then Officer Birk noticed Mr. Lattimore's hand on the gear shift.

        “I placed my hand on the gear shift to prevent it from going into drive,” Officer Birk said. “At that time, he grabbed hold of my wrist and hand and proceeded to speed away.”

        Officer Birk said he ran alongside the vehicle, was dragged until he worked his arm free, then tumbled onto the street.

        Under questioning by defense attorney Noah Powers, Officer Birk acknowledged that reaching into a suspect's vehicle can be dangerous — given the Sept. 1 death of Cincinnati Police Officer Kevin Crayon in such an incident.

        However, Officer Birk said, “I just reacted, sir.”

        Officer Birk said he did nothing to make the suspect think he was drawing his weapon — and couldn't have under the circumstances.

        “I was pinned against the side, the door of the car,” Officer Birk said.


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