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'This was not appropriate,' Isaac says of officer who shot suspect in Colerain Township

Posted at 11:54 AM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 18:34:36-04

Shooting a suspect in the back outside a Colerain Township gas station was “definitely not an appropriate use of force” for the officer who pulled the trigger Tuesday, police Chief Eliot Isaac said in a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

Officer John Brown, a plainclothes investigator with the Cincinnati Police Department’s violent crimes unit, claimed it was an accident.

"It appears, and by the officer's own explanation, this probably was not appropriate," Isaac said, then corrected himself. "Not probably. This was not appropriate."

Isaac said plainclothes officers had observed Andre Thomas, 37, taking part in several drug deals in Mt. Airy. The officers called for backup and followed him when he drove away from the scene.

According to Isaac, officers followed Thomas to a Shell gas station on Compton Road in Colerain Township. Police from multiple nearby agencies, including the Colerain Township Police Department, helped box him in and prevent him from driving away.

Unable to flee in his vehicle, Isaac said, Thomas attempted to break through the line of officers on foot. One shocked him with a Taser.

Seconds later, Brown shot him once in the back.

According to Isaac, Brown and other officers on the scene said the shot was fired accidentally — Brown had drawn his weapon when Thomas ran toward him, resulting in a physical scuffle that ended with Brown falling on top of Thomas and the gun going off.

However, because Brown is a plainclothes officer, he was not wearing a body camera at the time. Isaac said his department was attempting to reconstruct the event with Colerain officers' body camera recordings and security video from the Shell station.

Thomas was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he received surgery overnight.

Doctors moved him out of the intensive care unit on Wednesday and expect him to recover, Isaac said. He will be charged with resisting arrest and felony drug possession.

Brown has been placed on administrative leave and will be the subject of multiple investigations: a criminal investigation by the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office; an internal, administrative investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department; and an independent review by the Citizen Complaint Authority.