Thursday, January 04, 2001

Situation mirrors others across U.S.

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Indictments of two police officers in the death of a suspect adds Cincinnati to a growing list of cities where officers have faced similar deadly force charges.

        Some notable cases with similar racial overtones over the past decade in which officers were accused of killing or injuring suspects include:

        Philadelphia, July 2000: A dozen officers — black and white — surrounded Thomas Jones, a 30-year-old black man, as he was beaten and kicked on the street at midday. The beating was recorded from a TV news helicopter and broadcast nationwide.

        Louisville 1999: Desmond Rudolph, 18, an unarmed black man, was shot to death by two white Louisville police officers. Mr. Rudolph attempted to drive away from officers in a stolen Chevrolet Blazer. Officers fired 22 shots into the truck, hitting Mr. Rudolph at least 10 times. Louisville Mayor Dave Armstrong fired Police Chief Gene Sherrard for later approving commendations for the two officers. The shooting investigation continues.

        New York City, 1999: Amadou Diallo, a 31-year-old, unarmed African immigrant, died in a hail of gunfire from four city police officers. The officers, acquitted earlier in 2000, said Mr. Diallo matched the description of a rape suspect. They fired 41 bullets at him, striking him 19 times.

        New York City, 1997: Abner Louima, 31, a Haitian immigrant, was beaten and sodomized with a broken broomstick by white officers. Seven white police officers were charged in the crime, accused of either attacking Mr. Louima or attempting to cover up the beating. All seven were found guilty, or pleaded guilty.

        Pittsburgh, 1995: Police stopped Jonny Gammage, a cousin of then-Pittsburgh Steeler Ray Seals, after seeing him tap his brakes while driving. A fight ensued between Mr. Gammage, who is black, and two white Pittsburgh officers. Mr. Gammage died of compression to the neck or chest while officers held him face down. In 1997 the case of the two officers, both charged with involuntary manslaughter, was declared a mistrial for the second time.

        Los Angeles, 1991: The beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers was videotaped and captured international attention. The 1992 acquittal of four white officers in the beating sparked three days of rioting. The four officers were later convicted in federal court, and in 1993 two were sentenced to prison where they served two and a half years. In 1994 a Los Angeles jury awarded $3.8 million to Mr. King.

2 officers indicted in Owensby death
Relatives rejoice over indictments
Family, friends support officers
- Situation mirrors others across U.S.

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