Thursday, April 19, 2001

State trooper also fired beanbag shotgun

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The only Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper to fire his beanbag shotgun while helping with Cincinnati's riots was among those involved in a shooting under investigation by three agencies.

        More than 100 troopers from 27 posts across the state were diverted to Cincinnati last week. Of those, only Trooper Bradley Bishop fired a beanbag shotgun, OHP spokesman Lt. John Born said Wednesday.

        Trooper Bishop was one of two at Liberty and Elm streets Saturday afternoon when six Cincinnati officers — among the division's most well-trained, all SWAT team members — reportedly opened beanbag fire on peaceful protesters after the funeral of Timothy Thomas.

        The patrol is investigating whether Trooper Bishop fired beanbags during that incident or at another time, Lt. Born said. He did not know how long the investigation might take.

        “We're more concerned with making sure that we get the right answers and that we're thorough,” he said.

        Trooper Bishop and the six Cincinnati officers remain on duty during the investigations.

        The police division released no new information about its investigation Wednesday, with Chief Tom Streicher referring all questions to the FBI.

        Police spokesman Lt. Ray Ruberg said he did not know if that meant the division's internal investigators were finished. They started interviewing witnesses almost immediately after the 4 p.m. incident.

        FBI spokesman Ed Boldt said his agency's preliminary inquiry continues.

        The beanbags hit four people, including Christine Jones, a high-school French teacher from Louisville who stood in a crosswalk holding a “Citizens Against Police Abuse” banner. She was treated for a cracked rib, bruised spleen and bruised lung.

        The six Cincinnati officers: Spec. Todd Bruner, 31, who teaches defensive tactics and physical fitness at the training academy; Sgt. Eric Hall, 41, who has FBI advanced sniper training; John Mercado, 34, 10-year veteran; Tim Pappas, 34, on the force since 1997; Sgt. Arthur Schultz, 37, 10-year veteran, undercover drug investigator; Jennifer Ventre, 34, officer more than 10 years.

        Witnesses, including Cincinnati Human Relations Commission Director Cecil Thomas, said the officers sped to the intersection, jumped out of their cruisers, fired seven or eight times without warning and sped away.

        The incident continues to be widely publicized because several reporters and photographers witnessed it. And it's controversial because of its timing — shortly after the funeral of Mr. Thomas, 19, the man who was shot April 7 by Officer Steve Roach, and in the midst of relative calm after a violent week.


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- State trooper also fired beanbag shotgun
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State agency to assess damage