By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The burglary suspect killed last month by a Cincinnati police officer first tried to grab the officer's gun, then pulled his belt hard enough to rip off the leather that held his nightstick, according to new details released Monday.
Nightstick in hand, Andre Sherrer then hit Officer Michael Schulte in the head with the baton three times, knocking him to his knees. That's when the officer responded with seven shots.
Schulte will not be prosecuted for killing Sherrer, Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen announced Monday. The shooting was justified, he said, and ended what he called a "life-and-death struggle.''
How Sherrer got Schulte's metal baton was one of the key questions left about the Feb. 9 early morning incident in Northside. Allen said the torn leather was found on the ground at the crime scene.
The incident began when Schulte and others responded to a call about a burglar alarm at a clothing store on Chase Avenue. Schulte, 26 and on the force almost four years, saw the suspect running from the store in the dark and chased him on foot.
The officer confronted Sherrer in an alley. Sherrer, a 34-year-old who has spent most of his adult life in prison, first tried to get Schulte's gun, the homicide report said, and the officer fought to get Sherrer's hand off it. Sherrer knocked the officer off balance by grabbing his gun belt and pulling him closer.
That's when Sherrer ripped the baton and holder off the belt, the report said, and started hitting Schulte in the head with it.
After the first strike on his head, Schulte fell to his knees. He raised his right arm to protect himself, and was hit there, too, the report said. Still on his knees, Schulte then tried to grab Sherrer around his legs to knock him down, but that didn't work.
A third crack over Schulte's head caused the officer to spin away from Sherrer, homicide investigators wrote. That's when Schulte drew his 9 mm and fired the seven shots.
The department will review the incident to see if the kind of baton holder Schulte used is the best, said Lt. Kurt Byrd, department spokesman.
"Is it equipment failure or just sheer strength?'' Byrd said. "There are some things we have to look at here.''
Schulte has since returned to patrol in Northside. He asked Police Chief Tom Streicher not to transfer him, saying he liked working in the neighborhood and wanted to stay there.
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