Cincinnati jury acquits Stephen Roach
By Shane Johnson | October 12, 2001 | Page 2
THE CINCINNATI cop who shot and killed Timothy Thomas--sparking a three-day rebellion against police violence last April--walked out of court free last month.
Officer Stephen Roach was facing relatively minor charges of negligent homicide and obstructing official business, with a sentence of nine months if found guilty. But he didn't even get this slap on the wrist.
In his original statement after killing Thomas, Roach said that his gun "just went off." He later changed his story to claim that Thomas was reaching into his pants--for a weapon that wasn't there.
But Roach wasn't really on trial last month. Timothy Thomas was. Roach's lawyers based their entire defense on Thomas' past criminal record.
Thomas was the 15th Black man killed in encounters with Cincinnati officers since 1995. The anger of residents began to boil over after his murder in April.
When cops attacked protesters gathered for a peaceful vigil at police headquarters, the city exploded into three nights of rioting that captured worldwide attention.
After the verdict last month, Mayor Charlie Luken again declared a citywide emergency--following isolated reports of rock throwing and fires in garbage cans.
Yet Luken has done nothing since April to ease the conditions that led to the rioting.
While residents of poor neighborhoods like Over-the-Rhine remain stuck in poverty, the city has gotten on with the business of enriching big corporations that pull the strings in Cincinnati.
And to add insult to injury, the City Council voted last month to add 75 more cops to the city's police force--at a cost of some $4 million!