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Cops or Criminals With a Badge
This is a recent story that today took a turn for the worse. The following is the story reported on Local 12 news in Cincinnati (along with a few interjections from me). Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters (local prosecutor and Republican cronie, also a known racist) says a Cincinnati Police officer who ran over and killed a homeless woman in Washington Park last month, will not face felony charges.
Deters held a press conference this morning to discuss the July 27th death of Joann Burton, which was investigated by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Burton was killed after being run over by a vehicle driven by on-duty Cincinnati Police Park Officer Marty Polk. Burton was sleeping in the park under a blanket. Witnesses at the scene described that it was impossible to see her under the blanket. Officer Polk drove his vehicle off the paved roadway and ran over Ms. Burton.
Ohio State Troopers say according to police protocol, it is often necessary for park officers to drive their vehicles off the paved park roadways in order to fully surveil the park (they fail to mention that this park is 1 square block in size, why couldn't he just get out of the damn car!). Although Ms. Burton was alert at the scene, she later died at the hospital. The Hamilton County Coroner ruled her death from blunt force trauma as "accidental." (Yeah right, it was an accident that the cop ran over her but if this were any citizen driving that car that person would face charges of some sort and if it happened at a park that wasn't in a depressed area of town and to a white woman there would real hell to pay)
Officer Polk was tested for possible alcohol and/or drug use and the results of those tests came back "negative". (Well at least he wasn't high or drunk when he killed her) The Ohio State Highway Patrol conducted a thorough investigation into this incident including examination of the scene, interviews of witnesses at the scene, review of CPD Police Policy and Procedures, and an interview of Officer Marty Polk. After a review of all of the evidence, the Highway Patrol says there is no basis to show any reckless conduct by the officer which would support possible felony charges under Ohio law. (well yeah, cops protect each other should we have expected different)
Deters says, "This is a tragic case. However, after carefully reviewing the detailed report from Sgt. Hamilton at the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there is no basis for a felony charge." (that's fine but let's see if there are ANY charges filed against him)
Deters says under state statutes, Officer Polk's behavior would have been reckless if he had known driving through the park would have caused Burton's death... and he did it anyway. (possibly one of the dumbest statements I've ever heard, no shit Sherlock!)
While Polk won't face felony charges, he could (could being the operative word) be charged with a misdemeanor for negligence. The city prosecutor's office will make that decision and the attorney who will review the case told Local 12 he won't comment until a decision is made.
The Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless said, in a statement released earlier this morning, "The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless believes that had this act been committed by any other citizen, the act would have been deemed reckless and felony charges would be pressed. It is abhorrent that a police officer can drive through the grass in a park, run over the organs of another human, kill them, and receive no felony charge. Furthermore, we do not believe this would have occurred in any other park. Citizens were disregarded because they are financially poor and or homeless."
Homeless advocates say they will lobby the city for misdemeanor charges. Officer Polk would have to be deemed *negligent* to face misdemeanor charges. They will rally tomorrow afternoon here to protest the county prosecutor's decision and push for some sort of charges. Earlier today, the city prosecutor's office said they hoped to get a copy of the state patrol report by the end of the day. They will make a decision on charges next week.
Cincinnati NAACP President Chris Smitherman (a straight up, tell it like it is guy) says he's saddened but not surprised by Deters' decision. In a statement, Smitherman says he believes Polk would have been charged with homicide if Burton had been a white woman. Deters denies that claim. (Really Joe? you deny that? Really?) This kind of crap needs to stop, when cops commit crimes they should be treated the same as everyone else not given PAID leave until they're found not guilty (which is almost always).