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Lynching Cincinnati's Police By: Michael P. Tremoglie
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, December 04, 2003

So-called "civil rights" activists at the state and national level are busy politicizing the accidental death of a black man in Cincinnati for their own purposes. Overlooking all the facts of the incident, these leftists are using the racially explosive matter to lynch Cincinnati's police force once again.

The facts are readily available. Around 5:50 a.m. last Sunday, a White Castle employee called the Cincinnati 911 emergency line to report that a large man, Nathaniel Jones, had passed out in the grass outside the restaurant. According to a tape of radio transmissions, Jones created a disturbance after emergency medical personnel arrived, and the EMTs asked police to respond.

The cops videotaped the developments after they arrived. As described by the Cincinnati Enquirer, "Jones walks toward an officer, who yells, ‘Stay back.’" Indeed, the officer backed away from Jones before yelling, "Stay back," trying desperately to avoid a confrontation. The Enquirer further notes:

"Jones then lunged, swinging at the officer's head before he stumbled into the officer, taking him down. The two officers, Osterman and Pike, jabbed Jones in the torso with nightsticks as they repeatedly yelled, 'Put your hands behind your back.' But Jones continued to fight, flailing his arms and grabbing one of the police batons. The officers called for backup, asking especially for someone with a stun gun. Eventually, six officers responded, many of them also using their batons to strike Jones. After a struggle with all six, they got Jones on his stomach and his arms behind his back. The officers … realized he needed medical help…Jones had a pulse when EMS arrived, but he died within minutes of arriving at University Hospital…Police did not use a stun gun, but did use chemical spray in addition to the batons."

The technical cause of the death was an irregular heartbeat triggered by the struggle Jones forced on the police.

According to Cincinnati’s Channel 9 News, Coroner Carl Parrott's report stated, "Preliminary drug testing on samples from the autopsy of Nathaniel Jones revealed the presence of both cocaine and phencyclidine (PCP; "angel dust"). Each of these drugs is a central nervous system stimulant and has been associated in some cases with bizarre and violently aggressive behavior." Jones had an "intoxicating" level of each drug in his system during the struggle. The full report later showed Jones was also high on methanol at the time. In addition, he had an enlarged heart.

Although Parrott ruled the death a homicide, he is quick to note that he did so only because the death was not due to an accidental struggle. He does not believe the police intentionally killed Jones. In fact, he took pains to disabuse people of the notion that the police "murdered" anyone. "A lot of people confuse the word homicide with murder or manslaughter," Parrott said. "(This ruling) should not be interpreted as implying inappropriate behavior or the use of excessive force by police" (emphasis added). 

In fact, Cincinnati's Channel 6 News reports, "Parrott said that if Jones hadn't been using cocaine and other drugs, and if he hadn't had heart disease that may have resulted from drug use, he probably would have survived the struggle, Cincinnati television station WLWT reported."

The fact is a middle-aged man a few hundred pounds overweight, a cocaine addict high on two powerful stimulants, assaulted multiple cops. His continual disobedience of their instructions, his aggressive attacks in spits of their call to cease and desist, necessitated their call for backups. The cops apprehend him and he died – apparently the effects of his obesity, his controlled substance abuse and his age.

So whom do the civil libertarians want to blame? They want to blame the cops of course.

Black activists are asking for the cops and the commissioner to be fired. The NAACP is conducting an investigation.

Damon Lynch of Cincinnati Black United Front said that there is a 97 second gap in the cops’ videotape.  Lynch believes that those missing seconds might have shown that police provoked the attack. "Those 97 seconds are really crucial," Lynch said. The United Front has scheduled a Unity Rally in front of City Hall this Sunday.

Calvert Smith, the head of the Cincinnati NAACP, said the videotape as-is, vindicates Jones. "What it does, more than anything else, is helps us understand why Mr. Jones may have acted in the way that he did," Smith said. (Perhaps the reason he acted in the way he did is that he was hopped-up on three narcotics, Mr. Smith?)

Not to be outdone, national NAACP president Kweisi Mfume has called for a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the incident.

The grassroots are also picking up on the racial trump card. The day following the incident, a self-described, black citizen of Cincinnati, Nate Livingstone, called the Sean Hannity show to say that the cops provoked the incident. Hannity said he was going to show the video on his show that evening. The caller said that he wanted Hannity to show the whole video.

These demand by black activists and citizens are astonishing. These accusers of the cops – the Damon Lynchs and Nate Livingstones of the world - never requested the media show the entire Rodney King video. And the media never did: They only showed the specific sequences that indicted the cops, rather than the intoxicated King's continual physical resistance.

Only a partial video was sufficient for the civil libertarians and black community activists to convict and sentence the Rodney King cops in the court of public opinion. Ramona Ripton of the Southern California ACLU and the ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser were both on television pronouncing the cops guilty without the benefit of viewing the entire video. One of Rodney King’s lawyers even made the outrageous statement – on the Phil Donahue show – that he heard an audio enhanced version of the tape in which the cops call Rodney King a "n-gger." (There was no such version and King himself said no one used that particular epithet. Yet the supposedly unbiased Donahue never questioned the lawyer).

When the Simi Valley jury saw the whole Rodney King video, they said the cops were not guilty.

In Cincinnati, the liberals, the so-called “civil libertarians,” and the “community activists,” are already demanding the cops be punished. They have indicted the whole force. 

Roger Webster, Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police president, was quoted by the Enquirer as saying that after the incident, “the officers were treated like suspects…they were questioned for hours, read their legal rights and only allowed one phone call...My question to the police administration is, what criminal act are you investigating? You are accusing these cops of being criminals…That is why they don't want to work, because they are treated worse than the criminals they arrest.”

Organizations like the Black United Front and the NAACP, as well as scattered civil libertarians, display their ignorance and bigotry whenever there is such an incident immediately judging the cops guilty. They talk about due process and civil rights, yet they are very selective about their application when it comes to police.

This kind of racial pot-stirring is always destructive, but particularly so in Cincinnati, where racial tensions always simmer near the boiling point. Two years ago, Cincinnati shot a black man, and the black community rioted for three days before a curfew was forcibly imposed to keep order. Other allegations of racially motivated police misconduct have occurred through the years. And of course, the KKK tried for years to erect a cross on public property during the Christmas season. The exploitation of an open-and-shut case of police self-defense only further divides an already wounded community desperately in need of healing and citywide unity.

The most salient aspect about this incident is one that unfortunately will not be addressed by the mainstream media. Jones was arrested in 1998 for possessing cocaine and was given three years probation. He subsequently violated probation a month after sentencing.

He is typical of the dysfunctional criminal justice system that does not keep potentially dangerous people and serial criminals in prison. Rodney King was also a probationer when he was driving recklessly, endangering innocent citizens. The cops arrested because of that and for no other reason.

If both of these people were in prison where they belonged neither of these incidents would have occurred.

If anyone is responsible for the death of Nathaniel Jones, it is the judges who sentence criminals only to probation (just as was the case with Rodney King), and then sentence them to only a year in jail, after they violate their initial probation.

The cops did their job. The rest of the criminal justice system needs to do theirs.

A former police officer, Michael P. Tremoglie recently published his first novel, A Sense of Duty. His work has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Human Events, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has a Master of Science degree from Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia.

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