Friday, September 06, 2002

Evendale hears new protest

Residents blast lawyer payment

By Erica Solvig,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        EVENDALE -- Residents of this Hamilton County village continued to express discontent over the employment of Officer Stephen Roach.

        Most upsetting to the several dozen residents attending Thursday night's village council meeting was a $2,500 check, dated Aug. 2, that the village gave to Officer Roach's attorney, Bill Gustavson. Mr. Gustavson said the village asked him to investigate the idea of filing grievances against the city of Cincinnati in an attempt to clear the officer's name so he could return to patrol duties.

        Mr. Gustavson said before the meeting that he investigated the idea, but felt the better claim was against Evendale. The grievance was filed in April.

        But some residents said the situation is a conflict of interest. “The grievance hearing was a sham,” said Steve Jemison, a member of Concerned Citizens of Evendale. “The lawyer representing Roach and the village were one and the same.”

        But village solicitor Christian Schaefer said the village never retained Mr. Gustavson as legal counsel.

        “It was solely to explore what rights Roach would have,” Mr. Schaefer said. “I felt it was something within the discretion of the mayor to pay, so we paid it.”

        Officer Roach was hired in Evendale in January after he resigned from the Cincinnati Police Department.

        He was put on desk duty in March until he cleared his name after the release of a critical Cincinnati police internal affairs report on his fatal shooting of a fleeing, unarmed black man in April 2001 that sparked the city's riots.

        Officer Roach returned to patrol duty in May. Audience members also expressed disdain that the public input portion of council meetings was halted for several months after citizens exceeded time limits.


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