Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Twitty sticks by account

His lawyer calls account of being in park 'fabrication'

By Jane Prendergast,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Police Lt. Col. Ron Twitty was home in bed at 5 a.m. on July 4, his attorney insisted Tuesday, not in a public park as described by a source close to the investigation.

[photo] Lt. Col. Ron Twitty (left) listens as supporters speak on his behalf at a Tuesday press conference.
(Gary Landers photos)
| ZOOM |
        Sharon Zealey, who represents the suspended assistant chief, said in a statement Tuesday she has interviewed several people who were in McEvoy Park in College Hill “in the early morning hours of the 4th of July” to reserve a picnic area for later on the holiday.

        They did not see Col. Twitty or his gray, city-owned Taurus in the park, she said.

        Ms. Zealey was not specific about the time the people were in the park.

        “This rumor is nothing more than an unsubstantiated fabrication,” Ms. Zealey said, “and yet another example that significant evidence of Lieutenant Colonel Twitty's innocence is being ignored.”

[photo] James Lowry, former mayor of Lincoln Heights, says people who want to help Lt. Col. Ron Twitty can do so by donating to a legal defense fund.
        Col. Twitty, a 29-year veteran of the department and the only African-American to reach the rank of lieutenant colonel, was put on paid leave July 12 after Chief Tom Streicher decided he thought the assistant chief might have lied when he said the car was damaged by a hit-skip driver as it sat outside his Bond Hill house.

        The source had said Col. Twitty told investigators he was home at 1 a.m. after being out with friends at Fricker's in North College Hill. But that conflicts with information the source said investigators gathered, including that Col. Twitty was at the park at 5 a.m. with between two and five people.

        Ms. Zealey's strong words came hours after Col. Twitty's minister and friends announced they would help raise money so the assistant chief can fight the allegations of dishonesty without worry that he can't pay his lawyer.

        The Rev. H.L. Harvey, pastor of New Friendship Baptist Church in Avondale, established the Lt. Col. Ron Twitty Legal Defense Fund at Fifth-Third Bank. He said he had to persuade Col. Twitty to let him do it, but that friends want to help financially so a lack of resources doesn't deter the assistant chief from sticking with the legal fight no matter how long it lasts.

        Donations to the Twitty fund can be made at any Fifth-Third branch.

        “People have been asking us what they can do to help,” said James Lowry, former mayor of Lincoln Heights who is helping oversee the fund. “This is what they can do.”

        They also discounted a report by The Cincinnati Enquirer that said witnesses place Col. Twitty in the park, which straddles College Hill and Finneytown, less than two hours before he reported the car wrecked about 7 a.m.

        “That is not true,” the Rev. Mr. Harvey said.

        Col. Twitty brought his wife, mother and brother to the morning news conference at the church that the Rev. Mr. Harvey says he attends every week. Wearing an “I Support Lt. Col. Ron Twitty” button, Col. Twitty didn't address any allegations — his lawyer advised him not to, the reverend said. His wife, Yvonne, thanked friends for their calls and prayers, saying that support was “the only sunshine in all of this.”

        The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office spent more than 1,000 hours investigating the case.

        Col. Twitty has not been charged with anything.


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