Thursday, March 08, 2001

Police: Officers didn't violate policy

Video looks worse than incident was, report says

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati police supervisors say that a video of officers using their batons to subdue a man may look dramatic, but that it doesn't show any policy violations.

        An officer initially tried to stop Andrew Maxwell, 35, of Price Hill, at about 12:30 a.m. Feb. 27 because he was driving without headlights.

        A video shot from a cruiser shows him pull over but take off as the officer approaches the car.

        The pursuit that ensued lasted seven minutes at speeds up to about 70 mph, police said. Mr. Maxwell's Cougar crashed at Elberon and Maryland avenues in Price Hill, after which the video shows him get out and run down an embankment.

        Out of camera range, Mr. Maxwell hit a police officer in the face, breaking his glasses, Capt. James Whalen said.

        Two officers then hit him two or three times each with their batons, according to the use-of-force report on the incident. Mr. Maxwell injured his knee during the incident, but that was primarily attributable to the wreck and his repeated stumbles down the embankment, the report said.

        The video was shown repeatedly on local news programs.

        “Violent encounters are never pretty,” said Capt. Whalen, the supervisor who initially investigated the incident, who interviewed Mr. Maxwell in jail and determined officers followed policy.

        Though Mr. Maxwell's initial offense, driving without his lights, might seem trivial, his fleeing from officers escalated the situation, the captain said.

        Another supervisor, Capt. Vince Demasi, also signed off on the report.

        Mr. Maxwell remains in jail. He faces charges of assault on a police officer, driving without a license, resisting arrest, reckless operation and fleeing from police.


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