Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Disturbed woman dies after arrest, struggling

Witnesses say police acted responsibly

By Jane Prendergast and Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A 39-year-old Avondale woman with a history of screaming for help in public and resisting arrest died Tuesday after Cincinnati Police officers subdued her and drove her to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

        The cause of Wanda Colvin's death has not been determined. Autopsy results were not complete Tuesday night.

        Police and neighbors who witnessed the episode said the officers acted responsibly.

        Neighbors told police Ms. Colvin, of the 700 block of East Mitchell Avenue, ran east toward Clinton Springs Avenue screaming for help at 12:05 a.m. Tuesday.

        Several officers arrived, including one who saw her running and described her to police dispatchers as a ""Code 9,” police code for a mental patient.

        When officers approached Ms. Colvin to offer assistance, she ran from them toward a house at 791 Clinton Springs Ave., police said. They followed her, trying to talk to her and calm her, according to police reports. When that was not successful, they decided to take her to the hospital, police said.

        “Following minor resistance, Ms. Colvin was handcuffed and secured in the rear seat of the police car, where the erratic and unpredictable behavior continued in the form of violent struggling to get out of the car,” police officials said in a statement.

        Officer Kevin Hankerson, who drove Ms. Colvin to University Hospital, said when he arrived at 12:32 a.m., he noticed Ms. Colvin slumped over in the rear seat.

        Ms. Colvin was pronounced dead at 3:04 a.m. The Hamilton County Coroner's Office will continue its investigation today. Police said preliminary investigation did not reveal any signs of trauma to Ms. Colvin.

        Though Ms. Colvin's neighbors said they'd never seen her act so strangely, court records describe a similar situation with police 10 months ago.

        On Aug. 22, Officer Tracy Jones responded to a call about a woman walking down the street yelling for help. The officer chased Ms. Colvin, who struggled and tried to bite the officer while she handcuffed her. Ms. Colvin was taken to the hospital.

        Several people who saw what happened Tuesday said Officer Hankerson treated Ms. Colvin well and he repeatedly told her he wasn't going to hurt her.

        Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Cincinnati Police Homicide Unit at (513) 352-3542 or Crime Stoppers at (513) 352-3040.


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