CINCINNATI - The Hamilton County's Coroner's Office says gun residue was found on the body of a suspect who was killed in an officer-involved shooting nearly a month ago.
The incident happened on Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving, in the 1000 block of Burton Avenue in Avondale around 6 p.m.
Officer Orlando Smith shot and killed Dontez O'Neal, 19, after O'Neal allegedly fired a gun at the officer.
According to a statement released by Cincinnati police Thursday, the coroner's office found one shell casing from the scene was matched with a firearm that reportedly belonged to O'Neal.
The shooting occurred after undercover police officers said they bought heroin from Robert "Bobby" Mathews in Winton Terrace on that Wednesday afternoon. Mathews, 23, lives in Avondale and is described by police as a prominent gang member involved in drug activity throughout the city.
The undercover officers followed a car that allegedly contained Mathews, O'Neal and Gerry Branner, 22, from Winton Terrace to Avondale. That's when police say they requested a uniformed officer to stop the suspects.
Police say Smith attempted to stop the car on Burton Avenue. The vehicle made a U-turn and attempted to leave, but Smith's cruiser blocked its exit. At that point, O'Neal allegedly pointed a gun at Smith and fired, but missed the officer.
Smith returned fire, hitting O'Neal four times, including once in the head. He died shortly afterward. One of Smith's bullets also hit Mathews, who was seated behind O'Neal in the vehicle. Matthews was struck in the arm and survived the shooting.
On Wednesday, Dec. 19, the O'Neal family and Mathews filed a lawsuit against five officers involved in the shooting. The lawsuit alleges the officers acted recklessly when O'Neal was killed.
The lawsuit states that the vehicle used by the undercover officers was empty when O’Neal accidentally bumped into it while turning around.
Further, it alleges neither man had a gun at the time, and that Mathews had his hands in the air and was surrendering when he was shot.
“Neither Dontez O’Neal or Robert Mathews displayed any weapons, nor did they do anything besides attempt to leave the scene,” the lawsuit states.
Also, the lawsuit alleges that Smith and other officers tampered with video footage of the incident that was taken by a dashboard camera in the police cruiser.
The officers “destroyed dash cam video of the events in order to avoid criminal or civil consequences, which they knew would probably be brought, as a result of their deliberate conduct in battering one Plaintiff and murdering another,” the lawsuit states.
“The video that was destroyed by the Defendants relates directly to the Defendants’ conduct at critical times and such destruction was in bad faith,” it adds. “Video exists which relates to what happened immediately before and after the events.”
Eric Deters, the attorney for the O'Neil family and Mathews, had not released a statement on the coroner's findings as of 9 p.m. Thursday.
No other information is available.
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