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Prosecutor: Armed robbery suspect died Friday, officers cleared in July 31 shooting in Westwood

Watch police video of the incident
Posted at 7:04 AM, Aug 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-09 19:52:51-04

CINCINNATI -- An armed robbery suspect shot by police last month died in the hospital Friday, and no charges will be filed against the two officers, Prosecutor Joe Deters announced at an afternoon news conference, where he showed video from the incident.

In clearing the officers, Deters said 46-year-old Robert Schneider, a suspect in at least three recent armed robberies with a long felony record, repeatedly brandished a gun at them in Westwood and tried to break into two homes following a July 31 robbery in Green Township.

WATCH the full news conference here:

The officers - Barbara Aylward of Green Township Police and Timothy Bittner of Cheviot Police - shot Schneider three times after the 50-year-old woman living in the second home blocked the door, struggled with Schneider and stopped him from entering, Deters said.

Deters called the officers' actions "remarkable."

"They were dealing with a very dangerous individual," Deters said. "At that time he put a lot of people believing they were going to die that day.

"There were three innocent people in that house that he could have held hostage. There could have been a SWAT situation. Who knows what could have happened," Deters added.

Deters also hailed the resident, who was watching two young children in her home.

"I understand from the investigation she had back problems, and it was probably just adrenaline that she was able to keep the door shut," he said. "She referred to these officers as heroes. She thought she was going to be seriously hurt or die."

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Deters said Schneider's gun was "inoperable," but no one knew that at the time. When officials tested the gun, they discovered it was broken and not loaded, Deters said.

"He was using it as a weapon of intimidation," Deters said.

Asked if it was a case of suicide by cop, Deters said no. "He was trying to escape."

Deters said he cleared the officers following a review of video from Aylward's body camera and cruiser camera, and an investigation by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and Green Township and Cheviot police.

The July 31 incident started when Schneider robbed cash at gunpoint from a Marathon gas station on Cheviot Road in Green Township, then took off in a car he had stolen in Covington.

Here’s what happened next, according to Deters:

After a sheriff's helicopter spotted the stolen car, Schneider abandoned the car on Epworth Avenue near the old Mother of Mercy High School building and fled on foot through a residential neighborhood. He pointed his gun at Officer Bittner as he crossed the street. Bittner ordered Schneider to drop his gun. Schneider refused and Bittner fired one shot.

Officer Aylward pulled up in her cruiser and joined the chase at that point.

Schneider tried to break into a home on Geyer Woods Lane, one block east of Epworth, but the woman blocked him from opening the door.

On the video, Aylward can be heard shouting, "He’s going in the front door. He’s pointing a gun at us."

When Aylward and Bittner caught up to him in the front yard, Schneider refused their demands to drop his gun.

Bittner yelled, "Put the gun down,” then fired one shot.

Aylward fired three shots. Schneider was hit in the head and torso, Deters said.

The officers were not injured. Aylward is scheduled to return to duty Saturday and Bittner on Monday, their department chiefs said at the news conference.

As an aside, Deters showed video of a carjacking he said Schneider committed on Harrison Avenue the previous day. A-teenage girl had to jump out of the back seat to escape.

"This guy was a human crime spree," Deters said. "He had felony warrants out for him. His record was hideous ...

"This almost became inevitable when he started aiming the gun at police officers, aiming guns at store clerks, hijacking cars.”

Based on Schneider's record, Deters said Schneider should not have been out of prison.

"He was clearly a menace to society," Deters said.

"Once your record gets this long, after a while you've just got to say, 'That's enough, buddy.' When you think about the hell he put that little girl through, the store clerk through, the police officers through, he has no feeling for anybody."

Officials said that was Schneider's fourth robbery in just over a week.

Cincinnati police identified Schneider as the suspect in robberies at Hyde Park Wine & Spirits and Saks Fifth Avenue in Downtown. Covington police said he had also robbed Kimmy's Corner Grocery.

Schneider did prison time in Ohio and Kentucky and had six outstanding felony warrants in Ohio and more in Kentucky at the time of the July 31 incident, officials said.