Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Details of the shooting


Accounts indicate confusion, surprise

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati police Officer Stephen Roach shot Timothy Thomas, ending a foot chase in the 1200 block of Republic Street, one of the most dangerous streets in Over-the-Rhine.

        The straight shot to the left upper side of Mr. Thomas' chest came just three minutes after the chase began at 2:13 a.m. on April 7, according to police tapes and official accounts.

        While not all the facts will come out until the trial, here's what has been reported:

        Off-duty officers Robert Jones and David Damico were working security at The Warehouse bar, 1313 Vine St., when they spotted Mr. Thomas. Mr. Thomas saw the officers at the same time and began to run.

        Officer Damico gave chase, and radioed a dispatcher that the suspect was Mr. Thomas, saying he was wanted on 14 warrants. Officer Damico did not say what the warrants were for. Mr. Thomas was wanted for 14 misdemeanor charges, mostly traffic violations.

        According to Police Chief Tom Streicher, Officer Damico chased Mr. Thomas south on Vine, east on 13th Street, south on Jackson Street, and west on 12th.

        Tapes of police radio transmissions during the chase show only that Mr. Thomas ran down 13th Street, then back toward the Warehouse, then south on Vine.

        Officer Roach, meanwhile, was driving south on Republic Street. He stopped his car at 13th and Republic.

        According to City Councilman Jim Tarbell, Mr. Thomas was running with his hands in his pockets or as if he were pulling up his baggy pants. Officer Roach was running with his gun drawn.

        In the middle of Vine, between 12th and 13th streets, Mr. Thomas jumped a 6-foot fence, ran the length of a parking lot, turned north and scaled a 10- to 12-foot fence. He landed in a concrete alley behind an abandoned building, Mr. Tarbell said.

        When he landed, he was steps away from a surprised Officer Roach, who was sprinting up a driveway from the opposite direction, Mr. Tarbell said.

        Officer Roach shot once. At 2:16 a.m., he radioed a dispatcher to “send me a rescue unit.”

        At 2:30 a.m., an ambulance arrived and took Mr. Thomas to University Hospital, where he was declared dead.

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