Man dies after Walnut Hills traffic stop turns into officer-involved shooting

Blackwell: 'It was literally a fight for survival'

CINCINNATI -- “He's got a gun. Shoot him! Shoot him!”

Those are the words one of two Cincinnati police officers shouted before they shot and killed a man during a traffic stop early Tuesday in Walnut Hills.

Police say 37-year-old Daniel Row fought with and pulled a gun on officers after trying to escape the traffic stop near the intersection of Gilbert Avenue and Victory Parkway at about 1 a.m.

Video shown by Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell at a press conference Tuesday shows Row, the backseat passenger, get out of the vehicle and immediately run to the right of the police cruiser.

Blackwell says the two district 2 officers – Mark Bode and Thomas Weigand – attempted to use a Taser on Row, but couldn’t bring him down.

“The Taser did not have the desired effect,” Blackwell said. “A Taser cycle is five seconds. There was not a five-second pause. There was no point of incapacitation that would have allowed (the officers) to subdue (Row).”

Blackwell said Row pulled out a 40-caliber Ruger pistol with 15 rounds in the clip and one in the chamber.

Police said Daniel Row pulled out this 40-caliber Ruger pistol.

Row didn’t fire his weapon, but Blackwell said the decisions Bode and Weigand made next were “life or death.”

“It was a violent fight. It was literally a fight for survival for both of those officers,” Blackwell said. “Make no mistake about it. The use of deadly force in this scenario was necessary.”

During the struggle, Weigand told police officials he felt Row’s weapon hit his cheek.

Moments later, six shots were fired – two of which struck Row. He was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Tuesday’s incident wasn’t Row’s first violent encounter with police.

“He is known very well to officers here at the Cincinnati Police Department,” Blackwell said.

In 1997, Row was arrested on a felony drug charge. During that incident, he fought with officers and resisted arrest, Blackwell said.

In 1998, Row was accused of assaulting an officer again. And in 2006, Blackwell said Row faced an “almost identical scenario” to Tuesday’s incident when he ran from police, pulled out a gun and fought with an officer.

Daniel Row

Blackwell said police used a Taser during that incident and Row was successfully subdued. He was later charged with felony possession of a firearm and served 40 months in prison.

His parole was going to be revoked this month, Blackwell said.

The driver of the vehicle during Tuesday’s incident was identified as 28-year-old Jonathan Johnson. He was charged with misdemeanor drug possession (marijuana) and improper change of lane.

Officers Bode and Weigand said they pulled Johnson’s vehicle over because he failed to signal while switching lanes and had tinted windows.

A woman who was sitting in the front passenger seat of Johnson’s vehicle was not charged. 

Police say she ran away from the scene when shots were fired, but she was later found and interviewed by investigators.

What she told investigators was alarming, Blackwell said.

"Prior to exiting the vehicle, (Row) told her he was going to shoot the police officers," Blackwell said. “This is what we train for. We want our officers to go home to their families at the end of their shift.”

Investigators said the shooting happened right in front of a US Naval Reserve facility. They are hoping that surveillance cameras at the facility captured the incident and will shed more light on what happened in addition to the police cruiser’s camera.

Gilbert was shut down from Victory Parkway to Montgomery Road while officials investigated. It has since reopened.

Row’s weapon was found next to his body after the officers shot him. Investigators are examining it.

Bode joined Cincinnati police in 2000 and Weigand joined the force in 2002. Blackwell said Weigand suffered minor abrasions and contusions in the incident, but is OK.

“Fortunately their training… kicked in and they were able to persevere in this life-threatening incident,” Blackwell said. “Thank God both of these officers are OK today.”

WCPO’s Shannon Kettler and Jesse Folk contributed to this report.

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