Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Other officers did not view Thomas a threat

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Stephen Roach was the only Cincinnati police officer to take his gun from its holster as police chased Timothy Thomas through the pre-dawn streets of Over-the-Rhine on April 7.

        During the first day of his negligent homicide trial on Monday, Officer Roach sat stoically as four fellow officers testified that they did not perceive the 19-year-old Mr. Thomas as a threat.

        “I'd arrested him before,” testified Officer David Damico, who initiated the chase of Mr. Thomas. “I'd never had any trouble before with him. He'd never resisted arrest before. He'd never been violent.”

        Despite months of community interest in this fatal shooting case, which sparked the April riots, the Hamilton County courtroom on Monday was not full and protesters were few.

        In opening remarks, prosecutors said the 27-year-old Officer Roach ignored his training when he shot and killed the unarmed man, who was wanted on mostly traffic warrants.

        But the defense argued that Officer Roach shot Mr. Thomas because he believed he had a gun. The shooting, defense attorney Merlyn Shiverdecker said during opening arguments, was “a startled response.”

        The trial continues today before Municipal Court Judge Ralph E. Winkler.


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