Officers who exchanged gunfire with man in Walnut Hills cleared of any charges, prosecutor says

Watch body camera video below

CINCINNATI -- Two officers who exchanged gunfire with a man earlier this month outside a Walnut Hills apartment complex have been cleared of any charges, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced Tuesday.

Deters, alongside Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, also released video from the body cameras worn by each officer when they fired shots at Damion McRae on March 12.

BELOW: Officers Grubbs and Keuper's edited body camera footage. The video is violent and may be disturbing to some viewers.

 
 

Officer Kenneth Grubbs and Officer William Keuper were responding to a report of domestic violence at an apartment building in the 2600 block of Gilbert Avenue before the shooting. The two arrived at the scene at 12:13 a.m., police said. 

When Grubbs and Keuper entered the courtyard, Grubbs tried to stop McRae because he matched the description given by an emergency caller, Hamilton County Prosecutors Office Chief of Staff Triffon P. Callos said.

McRae then approached Grubbs with a concealed 9mm rifle and opened fire about six feet away, Callos said. Grubbs was hit in the lower abdomen and fell to the ground.

Despite being wounded, Grubbs was able to return fire as he fell, Callos said. On the body camera footage, he can be heard telling McRae to put his hands up.

"He's an 18-year veteran officer," Isaac said of Grubbs. "He's very well trained, and here he proved his training. After being shot he was able to protect himself and his partner and communicate with the suspect."

Keuper, who was walking behind and to the side of Grubbs, saw his partner get shot and immediately returned gunfire at McRae, Callos said. McRae was hit and fell to the ground.

Keuper knelt down to cover his wounded partner in the courtyard, Isaac said.

Isaac said Grubbs fired 17 shots and Keuper fired eight rounds in the exchange. McRae fired one round "successfully" before his gun jammed.

“I really think it was an act of God that saved those two cops," Deters said. "If that gun didn’t jam, we might be going to a couple of funerals now.”

Mayor: Shooting in Walnut Hills was an 'assassination' attempt on two officers

Deters said McRae was shot four or five times, twice in the head.

Emergency crews took both McRae and Officer Grubbs to University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treatment. Grubbs suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries. McRae was indicted on one count of attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault, 2 counts of weapon under disability, one count of carrying a concealed weapon and one count of assault.

If convicted of all charges, McRae faces more than 20 years in prison.

"I can tell you this, that guy is going to jail for the rest of his life," Deters said.

Related: Man accused of shooting police officer was on probation for drug trafficking

Deters said Tuesday that depending on the investigation, a second attempted murder charge may be sought for the McRae's actions on Officer Keuper.

"This is another example of officers simply doing their job yet putting their lives at risk," Deters said. "When they responded to this call, they had no way to know that an armed assassin was waiting for them.  Fortunately, their training and judgment saved them and both police officers are alive today."

McRae, 37, was previously convicted of drug charges and was out on probation at the time of the shooting. He's charged with attempted murder and gun charges.

 

Grubbs has been involved in on-duty shootings in the past, Isaac said. He joined the Cincinnati Police Department in 1998.

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