Thursday, May 17, 2001

Another suspect shot

Man who confronted officer stable; tension eased

By Jane Prendergast and Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In a rush-hour drama Wednesday that briefly set Cincinnati again on edge, a city police officer shot a knife-wielding man at a busy Mount Auburn intersection.

        The man, 21--year-old Antoine Williams of Mount Auburn, is accused of attacking a social worker nearby, then advancing on the officer in the middle of Reading Road and Dorchester Street about 5:25 p.m., police and witnesses said.

        Mr. Williams was shot in the groin and was in stable condition at University Hospital.

[photo] An ambulance at Dorchester Avenue and Reading Road prepares to take Antoine Williams to the hospital
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        The gunshot came as a tense city continues to cope with the aftermath of last month's riots, prompted by the April 7 killing of an unarmed black man by a Cincinnati police officer. Next week, lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice arrive in Cincinnati to start an investigation into police officers' use of force — particularly against blacks.

        Fifteen people have died in confrontations with Cincinnati officers since 1995, all of them African-American.

        This time, both the officer, five-year veteran Matt Martin, and the man shot are black.

        Officer Martin, 28, was taken immediately to the criminal investigations section to be interviewed.

        The aftermath of the shooting unfolded on live television, with video showing Mr. Williams lying in the middle of Dorchester Street. The knife that witnesses say he wielded as he lunged at the officer lay nearby, tagged as evidence. At least 20 people saw part of the incident.

        Officer Martin was called to the scene by witnesses who said a man was attacking a woman in a parking lot at Reading Road and Elsinore Place. Passersby chased him.

        The woman, who was treated at Good Samaritan Hospital and released, had been “choked to near unconsciousness,” Chief Tom Streicher said. She was not identified.

        Monitors for the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission were dispatched almost immediately to neighborhoods around the shooting to dispel rumors.

        Mount Auburn borders Walnut Hills, Pendleton, Over-the-Rhine and Corryville - all neighborhoods heavily affected by last month's riots. Wednesday's shooting comes on the heels of a spate of shootings and violence in those neighborhoods, including an incident Monday night in which one man was shot to death and three others were injured.

        Monitors explained to people that Mr. Williams was not seriously hurt and that many witnesses said he was advancing on the officer with the knife as the officer asked him repeatedly to put down his weapon.

        “What happens is immediately rumors started flying into the neighborhoods with improper information,” said Cecil Thomas, commission director. “And that can be devastating, especially at this time in our city.”

        The shooting caused no unrest in the neighborhoods, which were quiet Wednesday night.

        Mr. Thomas said he had spoken to the victim's mother at the hospital, but did not detail their conversation.

        The injured woman was one of the last counselors to leave the Talbert House treatment facility in the 1600 block of Reading Road. She walked to the nearby gravel parking lot next to Bavarian Motors to get her car. That's where the man met her, police said, and robbed her.

        Standing at the scene, Chief Streicher stressed that it was far too soon to speculate on whether Officer Martin acted according to the division's policies.

        “It's never good news when we have to discharge a weapon,” he said.

        Mr. Williams has not been charged in the incident, but police continue to investigate.

        Hamilton County Court records show that Mr. Williams has twice been convicted of disorderly conduct charges. A December 1999 conviction resulted in a one-day sentence and a fine; a September 1998 conviction resulted in a fine, court records show.

        Neil Tilow, president of Talbert House, did not know hours after the shooting which of his employees was involved in the incident.

        “I've never had anything like this happen,” he said. “It's not a place where someone would likely bother anybody because there are sheriff's deputies there.”

        The part of Talbert House where the woman worked is an in-house treatment program that handles up to 150 court-referred clients. Sheriff's deputies regularly provide security there.

        Mary Cameron, a director at the Mount Auburn Recreation Center on Southern Avenue, was working at the office several blocks away when the shooting unfolded. She did not hear about it until later.

        “The first thing I said was "Again?'” said Ms. Cameron by phone Wednesday night. “I don't know what to think except to say, pray and pray hard. I wonder what's the problem — but we as a people have to come together.

        “Find some love, somebody, my God.”

       Enquirer reporters William A. Weathers and Walt Schaefer contributed to this report.


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