Friday, May 18, 2001

Officer in shooting is praised


Chief: Force looks justified in early review

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        At first glance, Cincinnati police officer Matthew Martin thought he would have to rescue Antoine Williams from a group of angry men chasing the Mount Auburn man up Reading Road.

        But seconds later Officer Martin spotted the knife in Mr. Williams' hand and pulled his handgun. He realized he'd have to save his own life as the 21-year-old Mount Auburn man came menacingly toward him, police officials said Thursday. Officer Martin fired once at Mr. Williams, hitting him in the groin.

Martin
Martin
Williams
Williams
        Officials released a preliminary review of the rush-hour shooting that took place near the Mount Auburn intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Reading Road Wednesday.

        The shooting grabbed the attention of many in Cincinnati, with the city still nervous in the wake of riots, unrest and protests in the weeks following a police shooting of an unarmed teen-ager last month.

        When the bullet hit Mr. Williams, he fell to the ground. He was not seriously wounded.

        Mr. Williams was released into police custody from University Hospital early Thursday. He has been charged with aggravated robbery and attempted murder, and is scheduled for an arraignment in Hamilton County Municipal Court today.

        Police Chief Tom Streicher praised Officer Martin for quick thinking and action under deadly attack.

        Mr. Williams, who is accused of attacking and strangling a woman in a robbery attempt minutes before the shooting Wednesday, wanted to inflict deadly harm on the officer, the chief said.

        “His intentions were to stab the officer ... he has told us that,” Chief Streicher said.

        He complimented Officer Martin, a highly rated five-year CPD veteran, for “exhibiting a tremendous amount of restraint in allowing a suspect with an edged weapon (knife) to get within six feet before shooting.”

        Police training, he said, calls for officers to fire their weapons if a suspect armed with an edged weapon moves within 21 feet. Despite Officer Martin's repeated shouts for Mr. Williams to stop and to drop his weapon, Mr. Williams continued to move toward the officer, prompting him to back-pedal and to eventually fire one shot.

        “It appears Officer Martin's actions conform to our procedures,” Chief Streicher said.

        Under city police procedure Officer Martin is on administrative leave while investigations into the shooting continue.

        Police said Mr. Williams first attacked 24-year-old Sonya Johnson, a counselor at the Talbert House in the 1600 block of Reading Road near the Elsinore Street intersection. Police said Mr. Williams choked her unconscious, then tried to steal her car.

        A small group of men, one with a baseball bat, responded to Ms. Johnson's screams, came out from an adjacent business and chased Mr. Williams north on Reading toward the Dorchester intersection.

        Police said Mr. Williams and Ms. Johnson did not know each other.

        Talbert House officials cited federal drug treatment laws in neither confirming nor denying that Mr. Williams was a client at the drug rehabilitation center.

        Ms. Johnson, and fellow Talbert House employees, declined to comment about the incident.

        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.

       



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