OHIO-Cincinnati Deadly Force Archives

Sunday, April 15, 2001

Stories of 15 black men killed by police since 1995

By Dan Klepal and Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Harvey Price
Feb. 1, 1995

Harvey Price

        Harvey Price killed 15-year-old Tesha Beasley with an axe and kept police at bay for four hours before he was shot by a SWAT team officer on Feb. 1, 1995.

        Mr. Price, 34, struck Ms. Beasley — his girlfriend's daughter — multiple times before dragging her body to the basement of her North Avondale apartment.

        A neighbor discovered blood in a hallway and called the landlord. Police found Ms. Beasley's body, but no one inside the apartment.

        With police still inside, Mr. Price sneaked back into the apartment just after midnight by crawling through a kitchen window. Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Carl Parrott, part of a team searching the apartment for evidence, opened a bathroom door and found Mr. Price inside with a steak knife.

        Mr. Price was sprayed with a chemical irritant and shocked twice with a stun gun, but refused to drop his weapon. Police say he became increasingly suicidal as the hours wore on.

        At 4:27 a.m., four SWAT team members entered the bathroom with shields raised and sprayed Mr. Price with another round of irritant. Mr. Price began advancing on the officers, the knife raised over his head, police said.

        Sgt. Randy Rengering shot Mr. Price five times. He was exonerated after an internal investigation.

        Dorothy Anderson, Tesha's aunt, said she doesn't think police needed to shoot Mr. Price that morning. He should have lived a long life behind bars, she said.

        “This comes after years of reflection, but even he deserved a day in court,” Ms. Anderson, of Madisonville, said. “We may not like what some people do, but they're still human beings.

        “It just seems like when white men commit a crime, they still end up with their day in court. All 15 of those men killed by police were black, and that's the problem that has caused all of this.”

Darryll C. Price
April 4, 1996

Darryll C. Price

        Darryll C. Price was jumping on the hood of a car stuck in traffic, shouting that he was going to “shoot someone,” just before he died in a struggle with police on April 4, 1996.

        Mr. Price struck his head on the ground and suffered other minor injuries when police sprayed a chemical irritant in his face, tackled him and placed shackles on his wrists and ankles.

        An autopsy revealed that Mr. Price's death was caused by “agitated delirium with restraint,” a sudden death syndrome usually seen in mentally ill people or drug abusers. Mr. Price had been using cocaine prior to the incident. The syndrome begins when a disturbed person can't get enough oxygen, bringing on an irregular heartbeat or respiratory arrest.

        Once restrained, police called for medical help because they saw that Mr. Price — 42 years old and unarmed — was bleeding from the head.

        He kept struggling as officers put him on a stretcher, took off the handcuffs and refastened them above his head so that rescue workers could better administer first aid, police reports say.

        While officers were putting a belt across Mr. Price's chest, he stopped moving and rescue workers began CPR. He was pronounced dead less than an hour after police took him into custody.

        The coroner said Mr. Price's death was largely caused by the syndrome and was unrelated to the cuts and bruises sustained in his struggle with police. The police officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Lorenzo Collins
Feb. 23, 1997

Lorenzo Collins

        Lorenzo Collins had a brick. Fifteen police officers, surrounding Mr. Collins, had guns.

        A 25-year-old Avondale man with a history of mental illness, Mr. Collins died five days after two of those officers shot him on Feb. 23, 1997. He had refused to drop the brick he was using to threaten police.

        The shooting ignited public anger. Protests went on for weeks, all peaceful. The city responded by creating a citizens' review panel that would examine police shootings and make a recommendation to the city manager on whether disciplinary action was warranted.

        Attorney Ken Lawson, who recently filed a lawsuit against the city alleging that police engage in racial profiling, represented the Collins family in a wrongful death lawsuit. The family was awarded $200,000.

        Mr. Lawson said the citizens' panel has no real power because it can only make recommendations. “After the Lorenzo Collins shooting, getting the panel was enough to make everyone go home. And now there's been 15 black men, so the pattern has continued.”

        An FBI and Justice Department investigation found no criminal wrongdoing by Officer Douglas Depodesta and a University of Cincinnati officer, both of whom fired twice. Mr. Collins was struck three times. Officer Depodesta did receive counseling.

Daniel Williams
Feb. 2, 1998

Daniel Williams

        Daniel Williams flagged down Kathleen Conway's police cruiser on Feb. 2, 1998. When she stopped, he hit her in the face and fired four shots from a .357 Magnum into her legs and abdomen before seizing the steering wheel and shoving her into the passenger seat.

        Officer Conway, 23, survived the attack by shooting Mr. Williams in the head with two shots from her service revolver. It was a justifiable shooting, investigators ruled.

        No one will ever know why Mr. Williams did it. The 41-year-old, who had been living in a downtown boarding room, had convictions for domestic violence and felonious assault. His sister called police two days earlier to report Mr. Williams had threatened the family.

        His death caused no protests, yet shocked the community's senses. It came just three months after Officer Daniel Pope and Spc. Ronald Jeter were gunned down in a Clifton Heights apartment while serving a domestic violence warrant.

        The attacks on police came as the city was considering a citizens' review panel, which would critically examine police shootings.

        That sounded like an insult to Fraternal Order of Police President Keith Fangman. After all, the force had lost three officers in as many months.

        “The timing was horrible,” Mr. Fangman said. “There was then and still is now a feeling among many police officers that we need a separate review panel to investigate why so many officers in this city are being physically assaulted and killed.

        “You don't hear the mayor or council talking about that. It's hypocritical.”

        Teri Hoehn, the first female officer on the force who left in 1979, said all police shootings are not created equal. Ms. Conway, she said, is a true hero.

        “That was courage under fire,” she said.

        Ms. Conway retired from the force last year after a long medical separation from her job.

Jermaine Lowe
June 3, 1998

Jermaine Lowe

        Jermaine Lowe saw the police lights in the rearview mirror and hit the gas.

        He sped up Vine Street in a stolen car, through Over-the-Rhine and into Corryville — an eight-minute chase on June 3, 1998 that ended when Mr. Lowe crashed into another car.

        A convicted felon who had broken parole and was sought for an armed robbery, Mr. Lowe leaned out the driver's door and unloaded his handgun in the direction of three Cincinnati police officers.

        The officers responded with a hail of gunfire that sent dozens of spent casings into the street. Mr. Lowe was pronounced dead at the scene; a passenger in his car, who was not charged with a crime, was unharmed.

        The shootout happened on the same block where Officers Pope and Jeter were gunned down in an apartment building.

        Partners Scott Bode and Scott Krauser, known as “the two Scotts,” along with Officer Michael Ammann, were cleared of any wrongdoing.

        John Foster Jr., owner of Highland Deli in Corryville, was robbed at gunpoint by Mr. Lowe two months before the shootout. Mr. Lowe was wanted in connection to that robbery.

        Mr. Foster said he doesn't like to see anyone lose his life, but police have a right to protect themselves.

Randy Black
July 17, 1998

        Randy Black was an education student at the University of Cincinnati when he decided to rob the Cinco Credit Union, where he was a member, on the morning of July 17, 1998.

        A short time later, he was dead.

        Mr. Black, 23, of Evanston, threatened credit union employees and demanded money. But that's not what got him killed.

        Cincinnati Police chased Mr. Black down Clifton Avenue, where he threw a brick at an officer.

        Officer Joseph Eichhorn tried to arrest Mr. Black, but the young man picked up a two-by-four dotted with jutting rusted nails. With board in hand, he lunged at the officer. Mr. Black was shot twice in the abdomen and died.

        An investigation found that Mr. Black had been armed with a handgun during the robbery, but ditched the gun during the police chase.

        Standard investigations found no wrongdoing on the officer's part.

        FOP President Fangman echoed that finding, saying a two-by-four is a deadly weapon and could have killed Officer Eichhorn.

        “If anyone in this community thinks or expects our officers to take a two-by-four in the head, they are sadly mistaken,” Mr. Fangman said.

Michael Carpenter
March 19, 1999

Michael Carpenter

        Michael Carpenter's death is the only one so far to result in a Cincinnati Police officer being reprimanded.

        The 30-year-old Mount Airy man attracted officers' attention about 1:20 a.m. March 19, 1999, at a Northside convenience store. Officers Brent McCurley and Michael Miller ran the plates of the blue Pontiac he was driving — which would turn out to be a friend's — and found them expired.

        Within two minutes of the computer check, the officers radioed for help. One of the officers had fired his gun and Mr. Carpenter was dead.

        That is pretty much all that police, witnesses and family members agree on.

        The police said that Officer Miller approached the Pontiac after it pulled over on narrow Pitts Avenue. Mr. Carpenter refused to get out and instead reached for the glove box. Officer Miller reached through the driver's window and tried to pull him out.

        Mr. Carpenter drove about 15 feet, dragging Officer Miller and hitting a parked van. Officer McCurley, standing behind Mr. Carpenter's car, said he saw the backup lights come on. He shot nine times.

        Neighbors, however, said the van was not damaged and the Pontiac seemed to be neatly parallel-parked.

        “There were a lot of things that didn't go with what I saw,” nearby resident Jewell Day now says. “Maybe it wasn't handled right.”

        Investigations indicated similarly mixed feelings among officials. Officer McCurley was exonerated by the U.S. Department of Justice, the county prosecutor and an internal police division investigation.

        The city's Office of Municipal Investigation (OMI) and the independent Citizens Police Review Panel called the shooting unjustified.

        Ultimately, Officer McCurley received a written reprimand and was ordered to receive 40 hours of retraining because of several tactical errors leading to the shooting.

        Officer Miller resigned from the force.

James King
Aug. 20, 1999

James King

        James King fired a shot in Fifth Third Bank to show that he meant business.

        The shot didn't hurt anyone, but it came just after Mr. King handed a note threatening to take hostages and kill people if he didn't get a bag full of cash on Aug. 20, 1999.

        Mr. King, 44, got his money and took off in a gray Chevrolet Celebrity with three Cincinnati police cruisers and a university police car close behind.

        Five blocks later, Mr. King turned into the open gates of a construction site, scattering workers.

        He led police on a winding course around several 15-foot-tall dirt mounds inside the site, just off Martin Luther King Drive. The construction area, about the size of a football field, is separated from UC's Morgens, Scioto and Sawyer residence halls by a chain-link fence.

        The end came when Mr. King found himself trapped by dirt piles in front and police cars behind. He jumped out of the car, gun in hand. Officers ordered him to drop his weapon. He refused.

        Kitty Choi, a junior in special education at the University of Cincinnati, heard the sirens and watched the scene unfold from her apartment window.

        She saw Mr. King and his gun.

        “Everyone came to a stop, the police jumped out, the robber jumped out, they fired, and that man just fell to the ground instantly,” Ms. Choi said.

        Officers Randy Webb, Rachel Folk, Jason Drach and Adrian Gibson were cleared in subsequent investigations.

Carey Tompkins
Oct. 16, 1999

Carey Tompkins

        Carey Tompkins lost a life-and-death struggle over his 9mm handgun with a Cincinnati Police officer in the narrow hallway of a West End apartment building on Oct. 16, 1999.

        Mr. Tompkins' death, the third at the hands of police that year, escalated tensions in the West End for days. Graffiti — such as “Police we can go to war” - appeared on several storefronts. But violence or protests didn't erupt.

        Known as “C-Murda” to friends, Mr. Tompkins was a new father whom neighbors remembered as quiet and respectful. However, police responded to a 911 call from his girlfriend's home that night.

        In the recorded call, Mr. Tompkins is heard shouting obscenities at a woman who is crying. An older man, identified as the girlfriend's father, is attempting to calm Mr. Tompkins, who then shouts: “If she ever got something to say about me, say it to my face.”

        The older man asks him why he would put a gun to the woman, then says: “You brought a gun out here. What'd you do with the gun?”

        As officers opened the door to the York Street apartment stairway at about 2:30 a.m., Officer Craig Ball came face to face with Mr. Tompkins, 28.

        The officer put his hand out to stop him and felt the handgun in his waistband. The struggle for the gun began.

        Janet Little, 52, has lived on York Street in the West End for about 45 years. Her kids grew up with Mr. Tompkins. She was upset by the shooting, although she thinks it was justified.

        “I felt the officers could have handled it better,” Ms. Little said. “But he had a gun and I don't know exactly what I would have done if I were those officers. Police handled it better than with this last shooting (of Mr. Thomas).”

        Mr. Tompkins shouldn't have had a gun, she said: “They're not to be carried around like it's the Wild West.”

Alfred Pope
March 14, 2000

Alfred Pope

        Alfred Pope was hit by 10 of 26 bullets fired at him by Cincinnati police during the early morning of March 14, 2000.

        At 23 years old, the Bond Hill man already had 18 felony charges and five convictions, including weapons and assault charges.

        His final run-in with police started when he and another man robbed and pistol-whipped three people in the hallway of an Avondale apartment building. Shots were heard.

        Police arrived and chased Mr. Pope, who pulled out a 9mm handgun after a struggle. He pointed the gun at himself and then at the officers.

        The officers opened fire. Kenneth J. Grubbs shot three times; Daniel Carder, seven; and Jason K. Lamb, 16. Officers Grubbs and Lamb each had just more than two years' experience, and Officer Carder had nearly eight.

        Friends and neighbors questioned the number of shots fired, but internal investigations exonerated the officers.

Courtney Mathis
Sept. 1, 2000

Courtney Mathis

        Courtney Mathis was a boy trying to be a man.

        On the night of Sept. 1, 2000, the 12-year-old sneaked out of his parents' Bahama Terrace apartment and into the driver's seat of a relative's car. He drove to a Mount Airy convenience store on Colerain Avenue.

        Cincinnati Police Officer Kevin Crayon saw the boy at the store and asked to see his driver's license. Courtney put the car in reverse. Officer Crayon reached into the car, apparently trying to grab the keys or shift the car into park.

        Courtney sped off with the officer tangled in the steering wheel. Eight hundred feet later, as the car weaved down Colerain and approached a busy intersection, Officer Crayon managed to pull out his gun and shoot Courtney point-blank in the chest.

        The shot dislodged the 40-year-old officer, who died when his head hit the exhaust pipe of a car waiting to turn left at the intersection. He was the fourth policeman killed in three years.

        Courtney managed to drive home. He collapsed in the living room and died four hours later.

        Both the Mathis and Crayon families came together after the incident and urged forgiveness. Willie Watts of the West End said Saturday that what happened to his grandson wasn't the officer's fault.

        The officer's death ended the investigation.

Roger Owensby Jr.
Nov. 7, 2000

Roger Owensby Jr.

        Roger Owensby Jr. died of suffocation on Nov. 7, 2000, as police tried to arrest him for outstanding warrants.

        Police spotted Mr. Owensby at a Roselawn gas station where he'd just bought an energy drink. He cooperated with the officers until he saw the handcuffs. The 29-year-old College Hill man broke free and ran, but was tackled almost immediately.

        Police officers sprayed Mr. Owensby with a chemical irritant, handcuffed him and placed him in the rear of a cruiser. He was found unconscious a short time later.

        Two of the police officers involved in the Owensby arrest were indicted. The FOP's Mr. Fangman said that should be proof that there is no investigative coverup when it comes to alleged police misconduct.

        Mr. Fangman said he can understand the public anger in the Owensby and Thomas cases. They are upset because the grand jury process doesn't allow questions to be answered right now.

        “I can understand the frustration,” Mr. Fangman said. “But two officers have been indicted. That's hardly a coverup.”

        Roger Owensby Sr. said Saturday the lack of answers in his son's death has been difficult to deal with. The Thomas shooting has made his son's death fresh again, he said. He blames police for both deaths.

        “I still to this day don't even know why they stopped him,” Mr. Owensby said. “It's old wounds. This brought it back.

        “The police are out of hand. They don't give anybody a chance.”

        Investigations into the incident continue.

Jeffrey Irons
Nov. 8, 2000

        Jeffrey Irons had been staying in an Over-the-Rhine homeless shelter when he went into the Pleasant Ridge IGA supermarket on Nov. 8, 2000, and allegedly stole deodorant and shaving cream.

        Rather than surrender to officers who caught up with him, the 30-year-old Mr. Irons struggled, police say.

        Mr. Irons grabbed a sergeant's gun and shot Officer Tim Pappas in the hand. Another officer, Frederick Gilmer, shot and killed Mr. Irons.

        Mr. Irons' death received more and less attention than usual because it happened a day after Roger Owensby died in police custody.

        The shooting led to several African-American leaders calling for federal intervention into police department practices.

        The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI are still investigating the shooting.

Adam Wheeler
Jan. 31, 2001

Adam Wheeler

        Adam Wheeler was wanted on three open felony warrants when he slammed his Donahoe Avenue apartment door in the face of a police officer investigating a drug complaint on Jan. 31, 2001.

        The incident touched off a shootout with Cincinnati police that ended in Mr. Wheeler's death.

        Mr. Wheeler allegedly screamed, “You want a war? You got a war.” He then fired all six shots from his gun.

        Officer Craig Gregoire, the 26-year-old son of a police captain, retreated into a bathroom during the shooting and noticed he was bleeding. He was treated at University Hospital and released.

        Mr. Wheeler had just been released from prison, after being sentenced to seven months in August for possession of drugs. He'd gotten the same sentence for the same crime in 1999, and served some time then.

        Rev. Steven Keith Wheeler, Adam Wheeler's uncle who lives in the West End, said his nephew wasn't trying to start a war. But he was fighting one on the inside — a war against drug addiction.

        “Adam was not stupid,” Rev. Wheeler said. “He was not trying to start a war. If he was trying to do that, he would have had more ammunition. He was intent on ending one, one that raged heavy inside his soul.”

Timothy Thomas
April 7, 2001

Timothy Thomas

        Timothy Thomas ran from police twice before. Both times, he got away.

        Mr. Thomas, 19, knew he had more than a dozen misdemeanor warrants out for his arrest and he knew police were looking for him. On April 7, he knew he'd been spotted by two off-duty officers working outside The Warehouse nightclub on Vine Street.

        Mr. Thomas took off, and the chase was on. The officers called in backups. Twelve officers joined in. Police said Mr. Thomas jumped fences and darted behind buildings, finally turning down an alley off Republic Street, one of the city's most dangerous.

        Officer Steve Roach was joining the pursuit from the other direction. He saw Mr. Thomas emerge from behind a building at the end of the alley and told authorities that Mr. Thomas was reaching for something in his waistband. He thought his life was in danger.

        Officer Roach fired one fatal shot, hitting Mr. Thomas in the chest. No weapon was found on Mr. Thomas.

        All evidence in the case is under seal. Hamilton County prosecutors say they will present the case to a grand jury this week.

        The shooting touched off a week of protests and violence unlike any seen since the 1968 Avondale riots that followed the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. That riot, on April 8, 1968, ended with two dead, 220 arrested and $3 million in property damage.

Send mail to  webmaster@theppsc.org with questions or comments about this web site.