Officer involved in shooting that touched off riots quits Cincinnati force

Saturday, January 5th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CINCINNATI (AP) _ A white police officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black man led to protests and three days of rioting has resigned and gone to work for a suburban police force.

Stephen Roach, 27, quit Friday as a Cincinnati police officer, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Saturday. Roach, who had been on the city police force since 1997, will begin work as a police officer in Evendale village on Jan. 21.

Neither village officials nor Roach could immediately be reached for comment. Roach has an unlisted telephone number and village offices were closed for the night.

Roach had been assigned to the Cincinnati police's auto impound lot since his acquittal in the April 7 shooting of Timothy Thomas, 19, in a dark alley.

The shooting touched off the worst rioting in the city since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, and Roach was subsequently charged with negligent homicide and obstructing official business. A judge acquitted him on Sept. 26, saying he shot Thomas because the officer was put in a situation where he believed he had to shoot or be shot.

The city imposed a curfew after the verdict, and unrest was minimal.

Roger Webster, new president of Cincinnati's Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said he wasn't surprised that Roach decided to leave.

``With the support he has gotten from the city, I can understand why he wouldn't want to come back,'' Webster said. ``He got no support at all.''

Juleana Frierson, chief of staff for the Cincinnati Black United Front, said Roach should have been fired and should not be on any police force.

``At least he's gone from the CPD,'' she said.