Saturday, April 14, 2001

Police not 'Nazis,' union leader says


Angry Fangman blasts mayor, chief

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati's police union leader blasted city officials Friday, saying their statements have helped promote an unfair national image of local officers.

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Keith Fangman
(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |
        The city's officers are not “a band of rogue Nazis roaming around Cincinnati hunting black men,” said Keith Fangman, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

        He also said many officers, exhausted from 12-hour shifts, think the city should've called for the curfew sooner.

        The police division was “completely outmanned” the first two nights of the riots, he said.

        Mr. Fangman called 17 board members to the FOP hall Friday afternoon to flank him as he unveiled what he called “the other side of the story” — the truth about the 15 African-American men killed since January 1995 in confrontations with Cincinnati police.

        He said he and other officers have been frustrated and disgusted with the way Mayor Charlie Luken and Chief Tom Streicher have characterized the scenarios.

        “The only thing people in this country are being told is that our officers have killed 15 people,” Mr. Fangman said.

        “Period.”

        The latest killed, Timothy Thomas, 19, was not armed. He was shot in the left side of his chest early April 7 in Over-the-Rhine by Officer Steve Roach, a four-year veteran of the force described by the chief as a fundamentally very sound of ficer.

        A grand jury will investigate whether the officer's conduct crossed the line from police work to criminal activity.

        Two more of the 15 also did not have weapons.

        Six, however, were armed with guns.

        One of those shot Officer Kathleen Conway first. (Conway page)

        Another took away an officer's gun.

        Another was armed with a knife, one wielded a brick, and another held a board with nails in it.

        Two of the incidents involved suspects in cars, one of which ultimately dragged an officer to his death last September. (Crayon page)

        Mayor Charlie Luken did not want to elaborate on Mr. Fangman's comments Friday.

        “I am sure there will be plenty of time for Mr. Fangman to affix blame,” he said. “Mr. Fangman and I have had differences since I stepped into this office.”

        Mr. Luken was elected in December 1999.

        Mr. Fangman, who also is a Cincinnati police officer, said that in most cases, the officers shot because they were being attacked.

        “We can't help it that these suspects committed violent acts,” Mr. Fangman said.

        “We don't create these situations, folks. We simply react to these incidents.

        “Do people just expect us to allow ourselves to be shot?”

       



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