Citizen Complaint Authority can't interview officers in shooting before trial, judge rules

CINCINNATI -- A Hamilton County judge sided with the prosecutor Thursday in a case related to an exchange of gunfire between police officers and a man outside a Walnut Hills apartment complex last year.

The Citizen Complaint Authority, an independent body that reviews allegations of misconduct against police, had sought to interview police officers Kenneth Grubbs and William Keuper. The officers were responding to a domestic violence call on March 12, 2017, when Damion McRae shot Grubbs with a concealed rifle, according to police. Both officers returned fire.

Prosecutor Joe Deters has cleared the officers of any wrongdoing in the case. But the CCA can conduct its own investigations into police use of force.

In January, Deters filed a motion asking the judge to prevent the CCA from interviewing the officers until after his criminal case against McRae is complete. McRae is facing two counts of attempted murder, three counts of felonious assault and other charges.

"I'm concerned about the safety of our officers. I'm certain it would affect our criminal case in many respects," Deters said. "It would give the defense an unfair advantage in discovery."

Judge Tom Heekin sided with Deters Thursday, writing that compelling the officers to testify about the case before McRae's trial "would "interfere with the prosecution's criminal case." Heekin granted an injuction preventing the CCA from conducting any interviews or hearings with any police officers who are witnesses in the case.

"It is well-established that prosecuting authorities are entitled to complete prosecutions without interference by other bodies," Heekin wrote.

McRae's court case has been delayed several times. His trial currently scheduled to begin in October.

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