Friday, September 28, 2001
Police back judge's ruling
By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer
While preparing for a second night of a citywide curfew, several Cincinnati police officers said they supported the verdict that caused protests in Over-the-Rhine.
In interviews Thursday, several said they trust Hamilton County Municipal Judge Ralph E. Winkler's decision to acquit Officer Stephen Roach. He was acquitted of two misdemeanor charges stemming from the April shooting death of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed African-American man who was running from police.
The stress of sometimes having to make split-second decisions was mentioned often by police officers.
You have to be confident in the judicial system because there's no other system out there, Lt. Col. Ron Twitty said. I knew (the verdict) was going to be controversial. (But) the key is to have time as your ally. If you don't have time, you're reactionary.
Sgt. Jeff Gramke agreed.
The courts know due process, he said. As far as Officer Roach goes, it's nice that he can move on with his career. You can second guess and Monday quarterback. (But) I know in his heart he hoped it never occurred. With his job, it did occur. We have to move on.
We're thrown into these situations not by our choice but by the other person's choice. Sometimes, those situations are violent and we have to deal with them.
Cincinnati Police Sgt. Rodney Carter, an African-American, never thought the shooting was racially motivated. Some African-Americans have disagreed.
But, when you're in the heat of a moment, things happen, Sgt. Carter said. That's what happened here.
Investigator Jeff Dunaway said the lesson of the past months could be that police need improved training.
But, it is impossible to find any training similar to what (Officer Roach) went through that night. There's nothing you can do that's going to come close to that stress, he said.
Police Chief Tom Streicher said the judge's decision really provides the majority of the resolution for us. The way (Judge Winkler) articulated the propriety of the shooting that clearly has been resolved by the judge.
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