Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Details of shooting put under wraps

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Cincinnati police cruiser video camera caught some of the action when an officer shot an unarmed man early Saturday morning in Over-the-Rhine.

        Police would not disclose what was on the videotape — taken at the scene of the shooting. It is now being held under a grand jury subpoena, which means it remains sealed until all investigations are complete.

        The police sought the subpoena Monday after consultation with Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen. It covers the videotape and other evidence.

        Police investigators continue to piece together what happened in an alley behind Republic Street in Over-the-Rhine about 2:15 a.m. Saturday. Officer Steve Roach shot Timothy Thomas, 19, in the chest. He died from the gunshot.

        Councilman James Tarbell said Monday the officer perceived his life to be in danger because Mr. Thomas reached into his waistband. No weapon was found.

        Mr. Thomas was wanted on 14 nonfelony warrants — 12 of them resulting from traffic offenses such as seat belt violations and driving without a license.

        Because it is crucial to keep some details of the investigation under wraps until it's finished, police sought the subpoena, Chief Tom Streicher said.

        The subpoena, however, does not mean a grand jury investigation of Officer Roach's actions has started. That will be determined by Mr. Allen after police investigators finish and show him their evidence.

        “We're not going to rush this,” Mr. Allen said. “We think it's in everybody's interest to take our time.”

        Chief Streicher said he also is asking the local FBI office to get involved.


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