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Twenty years later, slain Cincinnati police officers Daniel Pope, Ronald Jeter remembered

Confusion compounded tragedy
Posted at 7:57 PM, Dec 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-06 00:55:16-05

CINCINNATI -- Confusion, devastation and shock still reverberate through the force exactly 20 years after two Cincinnati police officers were killed in an ambush.

Friends and co-workers of Daniel Pope and Ronald Jeter gathered at the Holy Grail at The Banks Tuesday to honor them. It’s something they've done every December since 1998.

Sgt. Dan Hils, Sgt. Brian Ibold (now with Green Township police) and Officer Tim Campbell were all there that night after Alonzo Davenport shot and killed Pope and Jeter inside his Clifton Heights apartment. Davenport ambushed the officers when they  came to serve domestic violence warrants on him.

After the killings on West Hollister Street, Davenport ran two blocks to a park next to the UC campus and turned the gun on himself, police said. Because of confusion over the two separate shooting scenes, it took dispatchers and police 45 minutes to sort things out.

In the meantime, no officers were dispatched to the apartment  where the officers were mortally wounded. A witness called 911, but a dispatcher dismissed him.

Caller:  “Please, please, there's two police down.”

Dispatcher: “Are you outside?"

Caller: “No, inside.”

Dispatcher: “How do you know they're down?”

Caller: “Because they're in front of my face.”

Campbell acknowledged the miscommunication.

“There was difficulty,” he said. “I don't know if it would have made a difference. I'd like to think that it would have, but you can't — no one will ever know.”

After the delay, Hils, now FOP president, entered the apartment.

He’ll never forget it.

“When I first walked in the door, I can kind of remember seeing him, but not really vividly, and I feel like it was so overwhelming there was kind of a little blackout about it,” Hils said.

Ibold said Pope and Jeter were outstanding officers.

“They were the best of the best,” Ibold said. “It's very simple. They were the best officers I ever worked with. No doubt.”

That’s the memory that will stick with those at the Holy Grail Tuesday night.

WATCH WCPO video about Pope and Jeter from 1997 and read more in our From The Vault series.