Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Evidence of excessive force slim, lawyer says

There's no pattern, says attorney hired by the city

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There is not enough evidence against the Cincinnati Police Division to show a pattern of excessive force, said Billy Martin, the lawyer Cincinnati hired to represent it in a Department of Justice investigation of the police division.

        ┘His comments came Tuesday after Department of Justice lawyers investigating the police department held their first official interviews with the city manager, police chief, safety director and other ranking members of the police division.

        “There may be a difference of opinion between the (Department of Justice) and the City of Cincinnati on policies and procedures,” Mr. Martin said. “If suggestions are made, the city manager, the safety director and the chief of police are willing to discuss them.”

        Federal investigators have demanded that the city provide thousands of documents involving training, accountability and every report about police force since 1995. But city officials Tuesday put on a happy face about the investigation.

        A press release titled City of Cincinnati Welcomes DOJ Officials begins, “Today Cincinnati city officials hosted representatives from the Department of Justice...”

        Just weeks after the April race riots — sparked by the shooting death of an unarmed African-American by a white police officer — U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced his agency would conduct a full-blown investigation of the police division.┘ Mayor Charlie Luken originally had invited the Justice Department to Cincinnati.

        Mr. Martin said Tuesday that federal investigators have indicated they might be done here in a matter of months. In other cities, he said, they have spent years conducting investigations.

        A former Justice Department lawyer now in private practice, Mr. Martin is paid $225 an hour along with any partners in his firm. His associates will be paid $165 an hour.

        City Council today is expected to vote on setting aside $195,000 for Mr. Martin to represent the city in the federal investigation and in a federal racial-profiling lawsuit.

        Council will also consider: $20,000 to defend the city on lawsuits stemming from the riot; $40,000 for a lawyer to handle discipline cases against police officers; $15,000 for a special prosecutor to handle the case against the officer charged in the April shooting.


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