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Cincinnati under curfew on eve of funeral for man slain by police

Fangman
Fangman, the head of Cincinnati's police union, points to pictures of officers killed  

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Safety director asks to be relieved of duties

Attorney General sends investigators to city

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CINCINNATI, Ohio (CNN) -- Police said Cincinnati's second night under curfew began quietly on the eve of a funeral for a black man whose shooting by police set off several days of violent protests.

Police Chief Thomas Streicher said Friday police were adopting a "soft visibility" stance to enforce the curfew. Lt. Ray Ruberg said officers would be on patrol but there would not be a show of force from police as has been the case for the past few nights.

Ruberg said so far Friday, there had only been a few minor incidents in the city. He said 26 people had been arrested in the early evening for curfew violations. More than 300 people have been arrested for the week relating to the violent demonstrations.

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NAACP President Kweisi Mfume speaks on the police shooting of a black man in Cincinnati

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Streicher said Saturday, the day of the funeral for Timothy Thomas will be a "crucial day" for police.

"We expect a large turnout for that, and we also have some intelligence information that there are going to be some large crowds around Saturday afternoon," he said. "We look for Saturday to be a potential turning point for us in this whole event."

Streicher said additional intelligence information showed that several groups from out of town had arrived in the city, possibly to "create some problems tonight."

Safety director asks to be relieved of duties

A wake for Thomas will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the New Prospect Baptist Church in Over-the-Rhine, not far from where he was killed. The funeral will be at 1:30 p.m., followed by a private burial service.

The Rev. Damon Lynch III told CNN that members of the Nation of Islam would serve as security guards for the funeral.

Friday afternoon, City Manager John Shirey announced the man who oversees the police and fire departments, Safety Director Kent Ryan, had asked to be relieved of his duties for health reasons. A memo said Ryan would be reassigned in the city administration.

Ryan attended the public safety committee meeting Monday where protesters voiced their anger at Thomas' death, and violence broke out in the streets shortly afterward. He was out sick the rest of the week.

Ryan, 55, is said to have cardiac problems.

Mayor Charles Luken announced the 8 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew Thursday as part of a state of emergency after days of violent demonstrations. The curfew was extended to cover Friday night into Saturday and could continue through Easter Sunday.

The demonstrations began after the death of Thomas, 19, who was shot once in the chest by a white police officer Saturday as he fled down an alley.

Thomas was the 15th black man since 1995 to be killed in a confrontation with Cincinnati police. According to a police document, seven of the men were armed with guns, one threatened officers with a brick, one waved a board with nails in it at officers and one had a knife.

A police union spokesman said two people, including a 12-year-old boy, used their cars as weapons against police. Three -- including Thomas -- were unarmed.

Both black and white officers were involved in the shooting deaths. Police were exonerated in nine of the shooting cases.

In the shooting of the 12-year-old, a police officer was killed when the car driven by the suspect dragged him. The officer was able to shoot the boy before he was killed.

In another case, an officer was disciplined with a written reprimand and had to undergo 40 hours of training.

Investigations are pending in the other four cases, including the Thomas shooting.

Three Cincinnati police officers have been killed in the line of duty since 1997.

"Our police officers are not some band of rogue Nazis roaming Cincinnati, hunting down and killing black men," said Officer Keith Fangman, Fraternal Order of Police president. "That is inflammatory, it's racist and it's wrong -- absolutely wrong."

According to a spokeswoman for the city manager's officer, the police force is 70.3 percent white and 28.4 percent black. The city's population is 43 percent African-American.

Thomas was wanted on 14 misdemeanor warrants: three for driving with an expired license, four for seat belt violations, five for driving without a driver's license and two for obstruction of official business.

The officer who shot him, Steve Roach, is on administrative leave, Streicher said.

According to Ken Lawson, the attorney for Thomas' family, police recognized Thomas from previous arrests and knew he had outstanding warrants.

"His trouble mainly was traffic tickets. No offenses of violence, he was a very non-violent person. According to his mother, he had two fights and that occurred before he was 16 years old, fistfights in school.

"They came from a pretty rough side of Chicago. She moved here several years ago to get her kids away from such a violent area," Lawson told CNN on Friday.

Attorney General sends investigators to city

The shooting is being investigated by the FBI for possible civil rights violations, and by a Hamilton County grand jury. Civil rights investigations are pending also on two other recent cases in which black men were killed by police.

A police investigation of the Thomas shooting was completed Wednesday, Streicher said, but he declined to reveal its conclusions. He said a police videotape subpoenaed by the Hamilton County prosecutor shows the officer's approach of the suspect and the shooting.

He would not say if Thomas made any threatening gestures toward the officer.

Cincinnati police arrest a man for a curfew violation on Thursday
Cincinnati police arrest a man for a curfew violation on Thursday  

More than 100 reinforcements from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and the Ohio State Highway Patrol were continuing to assist Cincinnati's 1,030 police officers Friday, Streicher said. Those agencies also provided helicopters for use in patrolling rooftops for snipers.

The mayor's office said it could still ask Gov. Bob Taft to send in National Guard troops if violence breaks out again.

Attorney General John Ashcroft sent representatives from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to Cincinnati on Friday to "conduct a review of the practices, procedures and training" of the city's police force in the wake of the recent police killing.

"They are instructed to work and consult with all interested parties," Ashcroft was quoted in a written statement.

City Councilman John Cranley noted the frustration over police violence in Cincinnati's black community.

"No matter how you look at it, we've got a problem that we need to address -- and we're going to address -- of greater racial justice in this city," he told CNN. He called for a broad-based commission to discuss civil rights in the city, and said some police department reforms already in place should be expanded.

"Bad apples in a police force need to be removed," he said.



RELATED STORIES:
FBI looking into Cincinnati police shooting
April 12, 2001
Cincinnati mayor declares state of emergency
April 11, 2001
Protesters loot, set fires in Cincinnati
April 10, 2001

RELATED SITES:
Cincinnati Police Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft

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