Cincinnati Police shot and killed a man Wednesday night when an undercover drug sting went bad. It involved three suspects and three officers. "It's been an ongoing investigation into drug trafficking, guns and gang activity in the Avondale neighborhood," explained Col. James Whalen, Cincinnati Assistant Police Chief. "The plan for tonight was to make a pre-arranged purchase from a suspect and then as the suspect vehicle pulled away to pull that vehicle over and make arrests. As the plan unfolded and the police were following the suspect vehicle, the suspect vehicle fled".
A marked cruiser then tried to stop the three suspects who were in a car. "There was at least one armed suspect that came out of the car. We have a gun recovered and are following up on information that two other suspects who came out of the car had guns," added Whalen. "The police officer fired shots. Two of the suspects were struck. They've been transported to University Hospital".
That's where Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco confirmed that a 19 year old black man has died from multiple gunshot wounds and another man is in University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Whalen said no cops were seriously injured, "The officer was not physically injured. He was transported to the hospital to be assessed because of the stress from the incident that he was involved in. He's already been treated and released."
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory was at the scene as soon as he heard about it. "I would again, as I always do, ask the community to reserve judgment, to be patient, to remain calm. We have three investigations that will happen which is typical. The police department will conduct an investigation. Internal Affairs will conduct an investigation and the Citizens Complaint Authority will conduct an investigation. So, there's a lot of information to gather and we'll have more details of what happened on Friday."
Karen Crawford lives on Burton and says she watched the entire incident from her inside her apartment. "When I came to the window I noticed the car backing up, in reverse, and hit the police cars and I just heard a lot of hollering and I heard the police just trying to get the driver to stop, stop, stop, stop. He didn't stop".
After attempting to attack the cops with a car, sources say the suspects then flashed a gun. The suspects didn't fire, but as soon as seeing the gun the cops started shooting. Exactly how many shots were fired is unclear. "It's hard to say, more that 5 less than 10. It's kind of hard to say with all the commotion and everything that was going on," added Crawford. She said it was scary, "We have kids out here playing every day and bullets don't have a name on them. It could've been anybody's child."
The man who was killed Dontez O'Neal who was just 19 years old. "This goes along with what we've been talking about for awhile now haven't we?' said Dr. Sammarco. "With the heroin use and what it's doing to our youth and what it's doing to our city. How horrible for his mother to have to identify him the night before thanksgiving and not have him at the table for thanksgiving. How is it really thanksgiving for her when she has to bury her son."
Police say O'Neal was a member of a gang and a drug dealer. He was 19 and would've turned 20 in January. Juvenile court records are not readily available but since he turned 18 in January of 2011, he was caught several times. In September and October of last year he was arrested for Possession of Drugs. Then three months ago he was arrested again for having heroin and selling heroin. He posted bond and got out and last month was arrested another time for Trafficking in Heroin. He bailed out again and had to give up $43,000 in cash and a car to law enforcement in a forfeiture proceeding.
Wednesday's shooting is not the first time this particular Cincinnati officer has shot at someone in the line of duty. Sources say it was Orlando Smith, a longtime veteran of the department.
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