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Another Rodney King type scenario?
(The man beaten weighed 400 pounds.)
By JOHN NOLAN, Associated Press Writer
CINCINNATI - A 400-pound black man died after being struck repeatedly by police wielding metal nightsticks, and the mayor said Monday a videotape showed that the officers were defending themselves.
The cause of death was under investigation.
Black activists say the death Sunday of Nathaniel Jones, 41, was another example of brutality involving Cincinnati police. The fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in April 2001 prompted three nights of rioting in the city.
"How many of our people have to die before the city decides to do something about it?" said Nathaniel Livingston Jr. of the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati.
The officers who were at the scene Sunday — five whites and one black — were placed on administrative leave, which is policy while investigators examine any police encounter that results in a death.
Sunday's confrontation was videotaped by a camera on a police cruiser. After seeing the video, Mayor Charlie Luken rejected activists' demand that he force police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. to resign.
"What I saw was a 400-pound man violently attacking a police officer in a manner that put the lives of police officers at risk," Luken said. "While the investigations will continue, there is nothing on those tapes to suggest that the police did anything wrong."
Luken said he agreed with the initial police assessment that the officers who struggled with Jones defended themselves as they were trained to do when attacked.
An employee at a fast-food restaurant called 911 early Sunday to report that a man had passed out on the grass outside. Emergency personnel arrived and reported that the man was awake and "becoming a nuisance," according to police radio transmissions.
The first two officers to arrive, Baron Osterman and James Pike, were shown on the video striking Jones after he was warned to stay back. Jones then lunged at one of the two white officers and knocked him down. The officers kept yelling "put your hands behind your back" as they struggled to handcuff him.
They called for an ambulance when Jones appeared to be in distress. He died within minutes of arriving at University Hospital, Assistant Chief Richard Janke said. The reason for Jones' behavior is not known, Janke said.
Black activist groups staged an economic boycott of Cincinnati after the 2001 shooting of Timothy Thomas, 19, who was wanted on prior charges of fleeing police when he ran from officers. Officer Stephen Roach shot him in a dark alley and was later cleared at trial of criminal charges.
A federal investigation of that shooting, requested by the city, resulted in Cincinnati's April 2002 agreement to tighten policies regarding use of force and to improve handling of citizen complaints against the police.
Last February, a white officer chased and fatally shot a black man who was spotted running from a store that had been broken into, police said. The police, Hamilton County prosecutor and the Citizen Complaint Authority review panel concluded that the shooting was justified because the suspect was beating the officer with his nightstick.
Last edited by blankslate; 12/01/2003 3:08pm at .