Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Ex-NFL player files profiling complaint

Cincinnatian Clark says police used excessive force

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A former professional football player says Cincinnati police officers stopped his car, ordered him to lie face down on the ground at gunpoint, handcuffed him and then apologized for a case of mistaken identity.

        Vinnie Clark, 32, who was a high school star at Cincinnati Academy of Physical Education and played for the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons, has filed a complaint alleging excessive force and is threatening legal action against the city.

        “Vinnie was almost shot,” lawyer Ken Lawson said on Monday. “Yeah, I think it is a case of racial profiling. They (police) were looking for a black man. Well, we don't all look alike.”

        Police Lt. Col. Ron Twitty said police were attempting to arrest a suspect wanted on a felony warrant when Mr. Clark's car was stopped in Over-the-Rhine just after midnight on Feb. 23.

        “We're doing an investigation to find out what is fact,” he said. “If things happened the way Mr. Lawson said, then he's got several legitimate issues.”

        Col. Twitty said internal investigators will be looking at the behavior of the officers, whether guns were drawn, if procedures were followed and if witnesses cooperated with police.

        Mr. Clark's allegation surfaced Monday, just minutes before lawmakers, police officials and community leaders began debating terms of a new racial profiling ordinance.

        Although city policy forbids officers to stop people because of skin color, dozens of residents have complained that this practice led to the Nov. 7 death of a suspect who was asphyxiated while in police custody.

        Col. Twitty said police had information from an informant that a suspect, possibly wanted on a felony drug warrant, was in Mr. Clark's vehicle.


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