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Cincinnati police chief: 'There are very valid questions'

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Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher

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CINCINNATI, Ohio (CNN) -- Nathaniel Jones died after wrestling with six Cincinnati officers trying to subdue him. The 350-pound man was struck repeatedly with nightsticks in a confrontation captured by police video. The cause of Jones' death is under investigation. The officers who were involved have been placed on administrative leave.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper spoke to Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. early Tuesday about what happens next.

COOPER: Do you have any doubts that these officers acted responsibly?

STREICHER: I think all we can do at this time, Mr. Cooper, is make a preliminary judgment based on what we're seeing on the tape. That being clear, the officers came under attack. At one point, they're defending themselves. At another point, a transition is made to where they're trying to make an arrest of a person for a felony act of violence.

Certainly, the standard for use of force in the United States is that the officers can use force to defend themselves and to overcome resistance to arrest, and that's what it appears is going on, on the tape at this point.

COOPER: We've all probably seen this tape. No doubt you have watched it quite a lot since this event happened. There have been some in the community who have said that there's a gap on the tape. That there is a moment when the tape is on and then it turns off and then it turns back on. They said it's a minute and a half that seems to be missing. Can you explain that -- that missing part of the tape?

STREICHER: It's a valid question they ask. I can tell you about the operation of our mobile video recorders. One is that when the officer turns on his overhead lights, that automatically engages the mobile video recorder inside the car, so that on the tape you see him driving to the scene and arriving at the scene. When the car is turned off, as he parks the car, that automatically turns off the system. That's just something to avoid the battery being run down in the car and us having dead batteries in police cars.

The officers then have a remote control system that is on their belt, so that if they're in contact with a citizen or they're some place where they believe that something should be recorded, they can simply hit a button on their belt that automatically turns on the video recorder and the audio recorder inside the car. It allows us to record that, and that's what appears to have happened here, and if so, I think it was a very wise decision on the part of the officers.

COOPER: I want to play you something that Dr. Calvin Smith, the chapter president of the NAACP in Cincinnati, had to say about this tape. Let's listen.

(TAPE BEGINS)

SMITH: We are not trying to say that this gentleman was innocent. I don't know what the circumstances were, but I have seen the film. And, the kind of beating that I observed would raise questions in anyone's mind.

(TAPE ENDS)

COOPER: Given the history of problems with the African-American community and the Cincinnati Police Department -- I believe you all have reworked your procedures for how you deal with a lot of cases -- do you feel this is going to be a big setback?

STREICHER: I don't think it will be a giant setback. I think what Mr. Smith is saying, and probably a lot of people are saying, is that there are very valid questions. And that's the reason it's incumbent upon the police department to conduct a 360-degree evaluation of this incident. So, that hopefully at end of the day, we can answer each and every question that everybody has, and that's our goal at this point -- to answer all those questions because there are different perspectives from different parts of society, and those concerns are valid concerns and that's the reason we should try to answer those questions.

COOPER: Where does this thing go from here? I know a number of investigations are under way. The officers are on administrative leave, which is a standard procedure. How long does that last?

STREICHER: That lasts for seven days. A combination of the next five work days and their two off days. Whenever we have someone involved in a critical incident, then they'll see the police psychologist. The psychologist will then consult with me and I'll speak to each of the officers. We'll make a determination of when they're ready to come back to duty.

These things take a tremendous toll on the officers. You can see it's gone from something here local to something that's national and, in fact, to our understanding, international in scope. That puts a lot of stress on the officers; puts them under a lot of scrutiny and we need to be concerned about their well-being as well as the well-being of every citizen we have in Cincinnati.


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