CINCINNATI police officer kills black man in gunfight; first such death since April riots

Friday, July 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CINCINNATI (AP) _ A police officer shot and killed a 22-year-old black man early Friday in the first such death since spring rioting over an officer's shooting of an unarmed black man.

Since the April riots, crime has surged and arrests have dropped as police admitted to holding back for fear of being accused of racism.

Police said the unidentified man, armed with a shotgun, fired first at officer Thomas Haas, who is white. The officer was not injured.

There were no immediate signs of unrest after the shooting.

As of Thursday, a total of 73 shootings since the riots had left 85 people wounded or killed, compared with nine shootings and 11 victims for the same period last year.

According to police Lt. Col. Ronald Twitty, officers responded at 12:15 a.m. to a report of a man with a shotgun in the Millvale neighborhood. The first officer did not locate the man but Haas responded after another call was received.

Police Chief Thomas Streicher said that, based on the number of shell casings recovered at the scene, ``it appears there was very active gunfire.''

The man was pronounced dead at University Hospital.

Streicher said Haas and the man were 20-30 feet apart during the shootout.

The man fired at least two rounds from a sawed-off, pump action, 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip, the chief said. Haas fired his 9 mm handgun and a shotgun at the suspect.

Haas will be placed on at least seven days paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated. Such a leave is routine in officer-involved shootings.

Just two weeks ago, Haas was involved in a gun battle in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, where most of the rioting happened.

He ran after a man who police said attempted a robbery. Investigators concluded that Haas fired 19 times and the man he was chasing, Deangelo Williams, fired at least 17 times. No one was hit.

Williams was arrested and has been indicted.

Streicher described Haas as ``an exceptional police officer,'' who has been with the police division about eight years. Haas is a beat officer and he is not a member of the recently formed Violent Crimes Task Force.