Friday, July 27, 2001

Cop kills gunman in shootout

Police: Dead man fired first

By William A. Weathers and Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Police Chief Tom Streicher points to a shotgun held by Sgt. Tom Lanter during a press briefing early Friday morning.
(Jeff Swinger photos)
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        A white Cincinnati police officer shot and killed a 22-year-old African-American man after a gun battle early today on Beekman Street in Millvale, police said.

        Lt. Col. Ronald Twitty said the man fired first at Officer Thomas Haas. Officer Haas was involved earlier this month in a gun battle in Over-the-Rhine.

        Police Chief Thomas Streicher said Officer Haas, who was not injured, survived “a very dangerous encounter this evening.” Based on the number of shell casings recovered at the scene, “It appears there was very active gunfire,” the chief said.

        According to Lt. Col. Twitty, police officers responded at 12:15 a.m. to a report of a man with a shotgun on Beekman Street near Millcreek Road. The first officer did not locate the man but Officer Haas responded after another call was received about the man.

[photo] A police cruiser damaged by gunfire.
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        Officer Haas and the suspect were “roughly 20 to 30 feet apart” during the gunfire, Chief Streicher said. The suspect fired at least two rounds from a sawed-off, pump action, 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip, the chief said. Officer Haas fired his 9mm handgun and a shotgun at the suspect. Damage to the roof of Officer Haas' cruiser appeared to have been made by a shotgun blast.

        The man, not immediately identified, was pronounced dead at University Hospital at 12:32 a.m.

        This was the first fatal shooting by a Cincinnati officer since Timothy Thomas was killed on April 7 while fleeing an officer. Mr. Thomas's shooting sparked several days of rioting. It's the 16th time an African-American man has been killed in confrontations with Cincinnati police since February 1995.

        On July 10, Officer Haas was engaged in a running gun battle with a man who police say attempted a robbery on Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine. Investigators determined that Officer Haas fired 19 times and that the man he was chasing, Deangelo Williams, 24, of Clifton, fired at least 17 times. No one was hit. (July 12 story)

        Mr. Williams was arrested and has been indicted.

[photo] A distraught woman arrived on the scene after the shooting.
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        Chief Streicher called Officer Haas an "exceptional police officer." Officer Haas, who has been with the police division about eight years, is beat officer in District 3. He is not a member of the recently formed Violent Crimes Task Force.

        Chief Streicher said clergy members and monitors from the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission will be in Millvale today to give residents facts about the shooting.

        The site of the gun battle is adjacent to the ball field at the Millvale Community Center.

        Officer Haas will be placed on at least seven days paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated. Such a leave is routine in officer-involved shootings.

        The officer-involved shooting was the fourth locally since the fatal shooting of Mr. Thomas.

        On May 16, Officer Matt Martin shot a knife-wielding man at a busy Mount Auburn intersection. The man, Antoine Williams, 21, of Mount Auburn, was accused of attacking a social worker nearby, then advancing on the officer.

[photo] A police investigator searches the scene of the shooting.
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        Mr. Williams was shot in the groin. He has since been indicted and remains in custody.

        Earlier this week, a Boone County police officer shot and killed a Florida man who pulled a pellet gun on another officer.

        Lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice are investigating Cincinnati police officers' use of force.

        Of the 15 other African-American males killed in confrontations with Cincinnati police since February 1995, six were armed with guns, and another took away an officer's gun. One was armed with a knife, one wielded a brick and another held a board with nails in it.

        Three, including Mr. Thomas, were not armed.

        Two of the incidents involved suspects in cars, one of which dragged an officer to his death in September 2000.

Timothy Thomas's mother can forgive, but can't forget
Stories of previous 15 black men killed by police since 1995

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