Queen City Beating


NFL fans everywhere have been stunned this season by the Bengals, whose success is nothing short of baffling. Yet the latest news out of Cincinnati, a city once dubbed America's "most beautiful inland city" by perpetually drunk statesman Winston Churchill, suggests that the more things change, the more they stay the same. From ABC News:

Coroner: Ohio Man's Death Is a Homicide
Coroner Says Police Struggle Is Primary Cause of Ohio Man's Death, Will Be Ruled a Homicide

Whole story here.

At least since 2001, when the police shooting of an unarmed black man touched off riots, race relations have been tense in Cincy, to say the least. Sadly, race relations are hardly the worst problem for the city that inspired the most depressing sitcom of all time and was dubbed "Ground Zero in Urban Decline" and the "the future of the American city" in this penetrating November 2001 Reason article.

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  1. joe –
    You’re not willing to assume there isn’t a problem with police brutality or racism – but you’re willing to assume there is one?

    In Columbus a black man was shot by two CPD officers (one black I believe) after he tried to pull a gun on them. There was a huge hubbub.

    The family hired a PI (who was black) that released a report indicating that the deceased was trying to get a gun and the officers were justified in shooting him.

    This resulted in howels of protest (we didn’t want the FACTS – we wanted the *facts* – wink-wink nudge-nudge).

    The internal affairs investigation also resulted in findings that the shooting was justified.

    Sometimes a cop shooting someone in self defense is just a cop shooting someone in self defense.

  2. Yes fatty was aggressive towards the officers first and naturally they used force to subdue him. But what about that one cop who is shown repeatedly swinging his baton (or also it kind of looks like he’s poking, or jabbing, the baton) at fatty once fatty was on the ground? At that point we don’t see fatty b/c he’s below the screen. We don’t know what fatty is doing, if he’s still resisting, etc. But I for one have a problem with an officer repeatedly striking a suspect with his baton if the suspect is not resisting. And we need an investigation to find out if, when that officer was a-whackin’ and a-whackin’ on fatty, if in fact fatty was still posing a threat to any of the officers. Also the autopsy revealed that there weren’t any club marks on fatty’s upper body, so maybe officer swing-a-stick was just a-whackin’ on fatty’s legs. That’s why we need an investigation.

    As for why he was initially under arrest, I read somewhere that he was acting erratically, dancing around the parking lot, then laying on the ground yelling “nineteen.” A 350 black man dancing around a fast food parking lot, then laying there yelling “nineteen” — yeah, I think I’d call the cops too. The cops were right to come in the first place. Interestingly the paramedics were the first ones called, then I believe they left when the cops got there, then they were called back when fatty’s heard petered out. A lot of unresolved issues.

    Call me a anti-cop whacko, but that’s my take.

    That is all.

  3. “I did a Google News search. 81 results for “cincinnati beating methenol”, 0 results for “cincinnati beating menthol”.”

    Huh. I got 104 with “methanol” and 28 with “menthol”. I guess my google is different than yours. I assume you spelled “methanol” correctly when you searched it, since I got 0 hits using “methenol”. Anyway, the menthol comment was a joke… it’s a common additive… you can buy menthol cigs.

    Anyway, I just searched some articles, and found this bit “police found cocaine and cigarettes dipped in methanol, an ingredient that causes a high, authorities said.” Dang, I gotta try that!:)

  4. I’m from Dayton, just up the road from Cincy. I can’t say I’d want to be one of the cops assigned to calm down/arrest a 350 lb. man on PCP — believe me, I can totally sympathize with those guys.

    That said, Cincy cops have been bad news for a long time. A friend of mine got roughed up by them for being in a bar underage. As it happens, his father was retired Chicago PD and called down to complain. Cincy’s IA officer called and personally apologized, but warned that his son’s ass would be grass anytime he crossed into Hamilton County if he pursued a complaint.

  5. Citizen must really like the stun-club from “Demolition Man”. Just bop someone on the head and it makes a pleasant and cutesy “boop” sound – and down the badguy goes.

    The problem with all of this fancy gladiator gear is:

    Cops can’t carry a ton of gear around all the time. They have some extra gear in the trunk – but it’d be crazy to ask that they carry it on their person on every call – and that’s just when they might need it (any time).

    If you did make cops carry a ton of gear – they’d appear more like soldiers than police (with alice packs, shotguns, machine guns, etc). That doesn’t go over well with the public.

    Officers tend to shun Less-than Leathal (LTL) weapons because if that’s all they have out – and the criminal responds with lethal force then the officer ends up dead.

    Let’s not forget – the Police have a few levels of force:

    1) Verbal Orders.
    2) Physical Intervention (grasping, leading)
    3) Moderate Application of Pain (pressure points, etc)
    4) Chemical Spray
    5) Severe Application of Pain (baton use)
    *** When Officer/Bystander Lives are Endangered ***
    6) Shooting the Suspect.

    As you can see, this guy had gone through several increasingly convincing requests to comply with the officers orders.

    Also, the type of physical strain the suspect was reacting to could be potentially fatal to someone already stressed by drug use and pre-existing medical conditions.

    Police brutality happens when compliance occurs, but the beatings do not.

    I did not see compliance in that video.

  6. Andy –
    I posted the incorrect spelling before. I searched for “cincinnati beating methanol” on Google News.

    This last time I only got 64.

  7. Neb Okla, cops can, in fact, carry around a ton of gear, such as nets, ten-foot poles, etc., if the fire department can send out a hook and ladder truck whenever it gets a report some derelict has a hangnail. You know what I mean about the fire trucks if you know Cinci.

  8. Neb, do police always have to escalate their level of force when someone is noncompliant? Is it a one way street, or can they back off, contain the guy, and try to get a family member on the phone? This isn’t a case of a guy who just stabbed his wife, and still has a knife. The dude was effin wasted, that’s all!!!

  9. “joe –
    You’re not willing to assume there isn’t a problem with police brutality or racism – but you’re willing to assume there is one?”

    Neb, I’m willing to assume it in this case. Boston has gone a long way down the road of community policing, including developing better relations with the people in the neighborhoods, and cracking down on abusive cops. A couple years ago a Boston cop shot a young black man in a park. There were demands for an investigation. The investigation, by either the DA or the police dept, determined the cop acted in self defense. Remember the Boston riots of 01? Me neither.

  10. trainwreck –

    They back off when they don’t have the upper hand (barricade & hostage situations – and some high-speed chases).

    If there is a problem and they can take control of the situation readily, I don’t see a problem with the citizens following orders until the situation is sorted out.

    In this case, supposedly the suspect “lunged at an officer” which many people would consider a threat, so I can understand if the cops saw it that way too.

    This is one of those sad cases where the cops show up on a “slap on the wrist” call where they should have taken the guy to DeTox and been done with it – and before they can do that, the suspect (admittedly not in a clear state of mind) does something stupid and starts fighting the cops.

    I’ve never seen an officer respond to an assult on his person by “waiting around and calling the suspect’s mother”.

    By and large, I think the police are very tolerant. Just the other day some guys were stuck in traffic. They decided to drive about 200ft down the wrong side of a 2-lane street and almost hit a cop head-on.

    The cop just shook his head at them. I would have cited them myself.

  11. Ruthless –
    The engine runs are called “first responders”. If they’re not using it for anything else, and it has a medic on-board, why not use it for transportation?

    Have you ever seen a pumper truck in a high speed chase?

    And should every cop drive a friggin hook & ladder to carry his equipment?

    What about bike cops?

  12. Okay. This about the 3rd or fourth time I have heard people going on about the number “nineteen.”

    I understand that numerology is just bunk, but lots of people believe in it, being pattern recognizing folk.

    I seem to remember Louis (gotta love the guy) Farrakan going on about the number 19. What’s the 411, anyone?

    Reminds me of after reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, seeing the number 42 everywhere.




    PS It has also occured to me that 9/11 actually translates to 11-9-01 in most other countries.

  13. “This is one of those sad cases where the cops show up on a “slap on the wrist” call where they should have taken the guy to DeTox and been done with it”

    What if he doesn’t want to go to detox? Should he be taken against his will? All because he’s a public nuisance? Do you realize that “public nuisance” laws are approaching zero-tolerance levels? How do you expect people to react to cops who just want to haul off people they don’t like, even if they actaully haven’t harmed or even threatened anyone?

    The last people on earth who should ever be given the benefit of the doubt are government employees.

    But the main quibble I have with Neb’s post is the notion of “slap on the wrist” as if such a thing exists anymore. Police aren’t allowed to haul in the town drunk, let him dry out, then just let him go, and be done with it. They don’t even have simple fines anymore. In some states, every arrest of any public nuisance who is even suspected of ingesting a drop of alcohol is subject to criminal charges and jail time. Even if the cops wanted to let someone dry out for a few hours, they’d just get sued for wrongful arrest anyway, so they are pretty much forced to take every case to ridiculous lengths. That’s what zero-tolerance legislation begets.

    I’m not taking the side of the cops here. They may be stuck enforcing insane legislation, but none of them is coerced into their jobs and some of them relish the oppotunity to punish people and hide behind the excuse of helping public safety. The dirty little secret is that a certain segment of civilians actually LIKE police brutality.

  14. After seeing the video repeatedly, I can say that I was impressed with the suspect’s ability to get up smiling while three officers were doing the best to put him on the ground so they could restrain him.

    The guy was throwing officers around like ragdolls. I have no doubt that they were worried for their own safety.

    Interestingly at the barber shop yesterday, when the story came across the TV, one of the barbers commented that “He deserved it because that’s what you get when you’re on drugs”. Hmmm…

    My own experiences with Cincinnatti police are limited, but amusing (to me at least). While stopped near the front door of a Kroger grocery store in Clifton, I had stopped (vehicle in gear, engine running, foot on the brake) a little past the front entrance in the Fire Lane (in Columbus these are labled “Parcel Pick-up” zones).

    The “special duty” ‘Natti officer approached my drivers side window and informed me that I was “Parked in a Fire Lane”. I was stopped – but the sign said “No Parking”, not “No Stopping or Standing”. For fear of being brutally beaten, I moved my vehicle. 😉

    Does anyone else have a problem with being accused of illegal parking when simply “stopped” in a zone that prohibits parking but not stopping?

  15. Oh, come on now. The real Queen City is Charlotte, which was incorporated many years before Cincinnati and was actually named for a queen. (And which is a much more “beautiful inland city” to boot, in my experience.)

  16. Caper,

    You just haven’t seen sunny Over the Rhine.

    I just stay on my side of the river, for the most part. Still friggin Bengals fans everywhere …

  17. Incidents like those shown in this video are why I wouldn’t want to be a cop. If I were one of the cops in that situation, I definitely would have killed the guy… I probably would have shot him. The idea of showing restraint when my life is threatened just doesn’t make sense.

  18. The surreal thing was seeing reports where first you’d see the family going on about what a Great Guy(TM) the deceased was, to be followed by the toxicology report of what they found in this guy’s system not to mention the additional drugs that he had in his possession.

    I’m sure he was a nice guy — but I doubt he was such a great guy to be around once he was finished with his regimen of coke, PCP and meth. And certainly there’s nothing in the video that I can see that suggests any police brutality. WTF are police supposed to do with some 300+ pound guy high on PCP and coke actively resisting arrest?

  19. The reports I’ve read say that cigarettes laced with PCP and METHANOL were found on this guy. I’ve heard of PCP laced cigarettes but METHANOL. I was under the impression that methanol was to toxic to be used as a narcotic. Am I wrong?

  20. “What if he doesn’t want to go to detox? Should he be taken against his will? All because he’s a public nuisance?”

    Well, he was being a public nuisance on someone else’s property, in particular, a restaurant. How many customer’s may have avoided the place on seeing someone acting crazy in the lot? The police did not come after this man simply because they “did not like him”, but because they received a specific complaint about him and his erratic behavior.

  21. I don’t know which is more frightening: learning that I must be Jason Ligon’s neighbor, or anticipation of the riot this weekend the rhymin’ revrums are now inciting.
    But how come the paramedics who were there first, managed to stay out of Sweet Cheeks’ harms way? Why can’t police training include use of a net or a ten foot pole or something when obviously the “nightstick” was ineffective in this case?

  22. Those of you denouncing the neighborhood for being upset about this case are missing the point. The hostility and sense of persecution felt by minority residents doesn’t stem from this one episode. This is a just a spark in a tinderbox, like the King verdict.

    The fact that people are treating a sketchy case like this as if it were a Birmingham moment only demonstrates the underlying problem.

  23. matt, maybe they were laced with Menthol:) As for methanol… I know it’s relatively safe to drink it, despite the oft-repeated notion that it will make you go blind or something. I don’t know what happens when you smoke it though, but the big risk I’m imagining is burning your fingers or your face… methanol is highly flammable.

  24. As far as I can tell, the Cincinnati or Thereabouts H&R crowd is at least Nick G, me, Ruthless, and Neb.

    It’s a friggin’ Mecca … of something.

    We just need to get the government to stop subsidizing methanol production. Oh, wait …

  25. Andy D. –
    The reports I heard said “methenol” and at least one mentioned “embalming fluid” and mentioned a connection between embalming fluid and PCP.

    I did a Google News search. 81 results for “cincinnati beating methenol”, 0 results for “cincinnati beating menthol”.

    I’m no expert on embalming fluid and PCP though…

  26. Joe’s right.
    The war on drugs is a large part of the “underlying problem” with minorities. The war on drugs–vice laws in general–make cops think they have a license to harass people.
    So Cinci is not alone in that sense.

  27. Spark in the tinder box? No, not really…in order for that to be the case, there would have to be TINDER in the box, and there isn’t. Police brutality is a problem that should be dealt with in a proper fashion, but this is not a case of police brutality. This instead, is a case of the police doing their jobs. If we prohibit the police from protecting themselves, and protecting the citizens of our neighborhoods, then how do we expect them to be able to perform their function? This gentlemen obviously was a threat to someone or something, the cops tried non-violent methods do restrain him, however, he reacted in an uncivilized manner, which, as far as I am concerned gives the police free license to also use uncivilized means. Lets remove the police from the streets of Cincinatti for a month, and then see who complains about them beating up a threatening drug addict, who was reaching for their weapons.

  28. Ruthless – The coroners report stated that there were no injuries to internal organs or head injuries (indications that the beating resulted in death).

    Who is to say that in “Sweet Cheek’s” poor state of health, he wouldn’t have been killed after being shot by a bean-bag gun or some other non-lethal.

    I didn’t notice a lot of pepper spray being used, but I’ve heard that it doesn’t do much to someone on PCP.

    Anyone know what this guy was doing? I saw some store surveillance video of him apparently “dancing”. I knew Cinci was conservative – but since when was dancing in a restaurant a crime?

  29. See Neb Okla, that’s what I mean.
    Cops don’t ‘llow no dancin’ ‘roun’ here.

  30. lobbyist, I’m not willing to assume that there is no problem with police brutality or racism in Cincinnatti, just because a case can be made that they did not play a role in this event. Clearly, the police receive much less benefit of the doubt than they do in my city, or in Boston, or other cities that have adopted successful community policing models.

    I do not believe that this acrimony between the police and the neighborhood stems from people in South Central of Over the Rhine being bigger assholes than people in Roxbury or the Lower Highlands. Like I said, this case is the spark, not the tinder.

  31. Ruthless –
    I’ll bet when they confronted him about his restauraunt dancing, he said “Sure officers! Just git me to a club!!!” – but they thought he said “Just hit me with a club!!!”. Honest mistake really.

    And on his hopped up state, he must of thought he was in a mosh-pit or something.

  32. I guess they did try chemical sprays:

    Jones lunged at one of the officers. A camera from the police car shows the officers using chemical spray and nightsticks to subdue Jones. They finally manage to handcuff him. Jones later died in hospital.

    Still, I have to wonder what the crime was:

    Police say they were called to the restaurant in the early hours of Sunday morning and found Jones dancing and marching like a soldier in the parking lot.

    Why were the police really called?
    Was he obstructing traffic?
    Was he assaulting passers-by?
    Or was he just dancing and marching in a parking lot?

  33. Ruthless made a crack about using a net or a ten foot pole to apprehend a suspect, but give that a thought. Is there any reason why cops don’t use Gladiator-style nets or tranquilizer darts or Spiderman’s web gun to detain? You have to get awfully close to a suspect to put cuffs on, seems like you’re asking for trouble. I know it’s off topic, sue me.

  34. My friend is a paramedic in a big city. He is constantly battling with police who use excessive force when dealing with people who are publicly intoxicated. I think the job just gets to these guys, and they become undisciplined and think nothing of kicking a little scumbag ass once in a while. They don’t have to deal with public who are drunk or high in this manner, but after years of dealing with the worst of the worst many cops lose their compassion.

  35. “They do it all the time with OSU students. Except they stick ’em in the paddy wagon for a few hours together to sober up. They might fine them, they might not (depends on if they’re minors or not).”

    Is this what happened to the defensive front in the Michigan game?

    (oooh, he’s startin’ trouble …)

  36. Cops “aren’t allowed to haul in the town drunk, let him dry out, then just let him go, and be done with it”?

    They do it all the time with OSU students. Except they stick ’em in the paddy wagon for a few hours together to sober up. They might fine them, they might not (depends on if they’re minors or not).

    There is typically much teeth gnashing (as students are wont to do), but really the kids come off no worse for it, if only fined a smallish amount. Rinse, lather, repeat over the course of a quarter.

  37. There is no reason – ABSOLUTELY NONE – that anyone who is not a violent criminal or an immediate threat to others should lose their life at the hands of the cops.

    I am a black man and I am sick of this super nig**r excuse that is bestowed upon us a result of police brutality. If that excuse is such an issue why aren’t police forces already prepared for it. Especially in the larger cities.

    If the paramedics had made a statement of the man’s condition (high, etc) this situation would be more palatable. But it was the coroner who made the statement. So how did the police know that this man was not a mental health patient or having some medical problem that may have needed assistance? For non-blacks, how will police know if you’re in a similar situation?


    In my opinion both public health officials (paramedics and police) contributed to this man’s death.

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