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Cincinnati Authorities Address Police Shooting of African- American

Aired July 27, 2001 - 10:07   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we want to take our viewers live to Cincinnati where a news conference is just beginning with the chief of police there. Another police fatal shooting taking place overnight -- and once again the victim an African-American man. This follows many months, actually many days of violent protests that were sparked three months ago in an incident where a Cincinnati police officer shot an African-American man.

We're about to get details of how things happened last night, any similarities or if it was a completely different case.

This is Police Chief Thomas Streicher, who will be speaking to us, and these pictures coming to us courtesy of WLWT.

CHIEF THOMAS STREICHER, CINCINNATI POLICE: What I'm going to do for you is play some of the recording that we have from the initial radio run to start this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shots fired in the area of Millvale.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) broadcast three unit in the area of 2168 Millvale. Shots fired in the area at 2168 Millvale.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired! Get me a fire company now!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirty-three, forty-six..

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty-six, I'm OK. Shots took effect on my suspect. I am at the corner, I think it's 3298 Beekman and he's still moving. I'm not approaching. I'm covering at this time. Copy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I copy. All cars responding to this acknowledgement, all cars stand by unless you have an emergency.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

STREICHER: The voice you hear is the voice of Police Officer Thomas Haas from District 3. I have a brief summary here for you.

At about 10:00 last night, a 911 call was received concerning a black male in his '20s wearing a black shirt and shorts with his hair in braids carrying a shotgun in the vicinity of Beekman Street and Millvale Court. A number of cars were dispatched to that area. In those cars, Officer Haas was not included. The reported person called back at just after 11:00 P.M., about five after 11 last night, stating that two shots were fired by the described individual, who was last seen going into the woods at 2150 Millvale Court.

Officers responded to that area and at about 20 after 11 reported finding no one and that the suspect was gone on their arrival after checking the area for the subject.

Approximately an hour later, at about seven minutes after midnight, the call was received by a District 3 desk officer that a Ricky Shepherd (ph), a black male 22 to 24 years of age wearing all dark clothing and was carrying a shotgun. He was on foot in that same area and cars were dispatched. Out of the cars dispatched, Officer Haas was included in those dispatched units.

At the same time, Officer Haas was very close to the scene. Haas was already in the area driving northbound on Beekman Street near Moosewood Drive. Haas turned left onto a service road at 3299 Beekman Street, south of the ball fields located at that direction. As he turned onto the service road, he reported seeing a muzzle flash and hearing a shot that was fired from a person who was now, who we now know as Ricky Moore, and the shot was fired at Officer Haas in an ambush style attack.

In his headlights, Haas could then see a subject who we now have identified as Ricky Moore in the grassy area by the ball field. Haas removed his pistol and issued commands for that, for Mr. Moore to drop his weapon and to freeze. Moore continued to move towards O'Hare's cruiser and wracked another round into his shotgun and stated to Officer Haas, "You want a piece of me?" using an expletive with the initials M.F. and then stated, "I'll kill you," and pointed the shotgun at Officer Haas.

At that point Officer Haas fired five shots from his service pistol at Moore and took cover in his cruiser, retrieving the cruiser's shotgun at the same time -- retrieving the shotgun from the cruiser at the same time. At this point Moore fired a second time at Officer Haas and tried to wrack another round into the shotgun, leveling the shotgun at Officer Haas. Haas issued commands for, again issued commands for Moore to drop the weapon. As Moore leveled the weapon and fired it or pointed it at Officer Haas, Haas fired two shotgun blasts in quick succession from his weapon.

Moore fell in the grass near the ball field. Haas reported two a communications section, as you've heard here, that he did fire shots and that the shots had taken effect. Haas summoned a fire division rescue unit, who did respond and the rescue unit transported Mr. Moore to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

In front of me here I have the weapon that we recovered. This weapon actually was recovered from the hand by Officer Haas of Mr. Moore. You can see that the weapon has been modified. The shoulder stock that's normally attached to the weapon has been removed. It's been modified with a pistol grip. A pistol grip is very commonly used so that the weapon can be easily concealed and we often, when we see a weapon like this we consider it one as being -- that has been modified to be used in criminal behavior.

That is about as much information as we have at this time for you and I'll entertain any questions that you have.

QUESTION: Chief, do you know how many times Ricky Moore was hit and what are you able to say about the actions of Officer Haas?

STREICHER: Well, we do know that Moore was struck in the upper torso area and also the neck. I have also been informed that he has a grazing bullet wound on one of his cheeks. The preliminary investigation that we've conducted to this point certainly indicates to us that the use of force by Officer Haas was legitimate and appropriate. We will still have to continue on with our normal investigations that we do and refer it eventually to the Hamilton County prosecutor for final opinion.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea why Ricky Moore would be walking around the street with a shotgun and as he sees an officer would say, "You want a piece of me?"

STREICHER: No, we don't. We do, we have some information about some activity that had occurred over the previous two days there. We are trying to follow up on that information. We don't know if it is related to this incident last night or not. All I can offer to you is that it's an ambush style attack on Officer Haas. The only person who knows why he did that obviously can't offer us that explanation.

QUESTION: Chief, today you're talking about the two calls about someone walking around with a shotgun and last night we were talking about three, the third, and I guess the first of them being Wednesday night. Do we know any more about that caller or if...

STREICHER: Well, that's...

QUESTION: ... that's related to Ricky Moore (OFF-MIKE)

STREICHER: We don't know that that is connected to this. We're trying to determine that. There was a call two nights ago on the 25th with three black males in that same area carrying shotguns and we're trying to follow up on leads to determine if that is somehow connected. We just don't know yet.

QUESTION: Do you know anything about Moore, a criminal past or other problems?

STREICHER: He does have some contacts with us in the past and he does have a criminal record. We didn't plan to discuss that today because it certainly has no bearing on the incident from last night.

QUESTION: Is he a Cincinnati resident?

STREICHER: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Chief, neighbors I talked to out there this morning say that this is the same suspect that was killed that was walking around last Tuesday with the shotgun. One woman says he just walked up and down the street freely, that people did call police, they came out but did not see him. Why did it take so long, I mean two days, he's walking around with a shotgun on the streets, why couldn't police try to catch him before this incident happened?

STREICHER: Well, I don't know who you've spoken to that's confirmed it for two days. We certainly haven't found anyone that's told us that. The only thing the officers can do when they receive a radio run for a person walking with a shotgun is look for that person then and after that if we don't find the person we don't find him. As you can see, one of the residents clearly told us that after two shots were fired last night that he went into the woods at 11:00, extremely dark, huge, large amount of forestry down there. So it's very difficult to find someone.

And obviously, Haas drove right up on him. He was dressed in dark clothing. He was in a dark field. He stepped out of darkness and fired a weapon at him. It's just difficult to see somebody at night.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Chief, also neighbors say that this suspect, he has a mental condition. Have you been able to confirm that with the family? They say that his mom has, you know, had problems with him because he has mental problems. Have you been able to confirm that in your investigation?

STREICHER: We've heard that but no, we haven't been able to confirm it yet. We'll certainly try to follow up with that.

QUESTION: Chief, in the computers that the officers have in their cars, would Officer Haas have been able to look up this man's name and see if he had a notation like danger to police or approach with caution or any kind of warning like that like, like you might commonly see for someone who had a record and might have had a problem with...

STREICHER: Actually, communications would do that for the officer is we know who a person is. In this situation, we didn't know who he was. Officer Haas certainly didn't know who he was approaching. So it would have been impossible to do that.

QUESTION: But two hours earlier didn't we have a description and a name, Ricky Shepherd, or do I misunderstand (OFF-MIKE)

STREICHER: Well, Ricky Shepherd is not who we approached. Ricky Shepherd was information that was given to us and as you can see, it was erroneous. The person that we conduct...

QUESTION: Well, his name, but his last name was Shepherd, which mainly seems that perhaps that person had the wrong last name. So he, we're assuming, then, that that suspect was a completely different person?

STREICHER: We don't know. We can't assume. We don't assume anything in investigations. We try to deal with facts only.

QUESTION: Chief, you said he was in dark clothing. Was it camouflage or was he just in street clothes or?

STREICHER: I didn't -- quite honestly, I didn't see him. John, do you know?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It was black or very dark. It was a pants and shirt or shorts and a shirt (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: Chief, do you know if any other officers were there when this shooting was going on? Had any responded at that time or...

STREICHER: Haas was just down the street as the radio run came out. In fact, he was driving, he actually drove right into the shooting scene as the radio run was coming out. Other officers were responding. This tape is certainly available to everyone. You can, you'll be able to tell on this that from the tape that after Haas fires his shot and Mr. Moore falls down, Haas clearly states on this that the subject is still moving, I'm not going to approach him until additional officers get here and he did wait. He maintained a position of cover and then a police vehicle was driven by another officer to provide cover for Officer Haas and a third police officer who approached Mr. Moore. They kept the police car between themselves and Mr. Moore until they got right up on top of him.

He still had the shotgun in his left hand and Officer Haas removed the shotgun from him and they rendered medical aid.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: How long has Haas been...

QUESTION: ... how close Ricky Moore got to Officer Haas? I read somewhere 20 to 30 feet, but you have Haas firing five shots and then he goes to the cruiser and gets the shotgun...

STREICHER: Right.

QUESTION: And then Moore fires a second time and there's time enough to give a second command of drop the gun?

STREICHER: Actually, if I understand it correctly, Haas three times, Haas initiated commands three different times for Moore to drop the weapon and I think it's a testament to the officer's bravery that after having been shot at twice he didn't use his shotgun until Mr. Moore leveled the shotgun and pointed it at him a third time. He still waited for an overt act from the suspect before engaging with the shotgun.

QUESTION: And how far was Moore from Haas at that point, do you know?

STREICHER: How far (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I'd say probably 20 to 25 feet (OFF-MIKE) QUESTION: Chief, why was it necessary to use the shotgun? Why did Haas go for the shotgun?

STREICHER: Well, at the distance they were at, at the distance they were at, the shotgun is a much more accurate weapon to use and as you can see, he's being assaulted with a shotgun. The officer certainly would want to at least have an equal amount of firepower to defend himself.

QUESTION: Was he in the car protecting himself as he was trying...

STREICHER: Actually, he was in the car keeping the car between himself and Mr. Moore. When the first shot was fired, Moore was in the car. We don't know which rounds struck his car. There is damage on the car at the center of the -- on the roof at the center of the windshield in the very front of the car.

QUESTION: Chief, can you tell us what the condition is of the officer? This is the second incident involving...

STREICHER: Right. He was involved in a...

KAGAN: We've been listening to Police Chief Thomas Streicher as he describes a shooting that took place, a fatal shooting that took place early this morning in the city of Cincinnati involving a white police officer and a black suspect. The man who was killed, Ricky Moore, police say was involved in a gun battle with Officer Thomas Haas early in the morning, after many reports of a man with a shotgun roaming through a Cincinnati neighborhood.

You have also had a chance there to see pictures of the weapon that Ricky Moore apparently was holding, a modified shotgun, a number of shots fired between the officer and between Ricky Moore until Ricky Moore was killed.

This, of course, newsworthy because Cincinnati has been the site of racial tension in recent months following a number of shootings between police officers and African-American men in the city of Cincinnati.

And with more background on that, here's Stephen.

STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: It's because of that, Daryn, that you could see Chief Streicher there taking such care to explain the circumstances of the shooting earlier today and reporters working over the facts so carefully there.

It was three months ago that the city was engulfed in rioting which was sparked by accusations that Cincinnati police officers used excessive and frequently deadly force whenever they were dealing with a black man as a suspect.

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