Man accused of shooting police officer was on probation for drug trafficking

Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 13, 2017

CINCINNATI -- The man accused of shooting a Cincinnati police officer early Sunday was convicted of trafficking drugs last fall, but he wasn't sent to prison.

Damion McRae, 37, is accused of shooting a District Four officer who was responding to a domestic violence call.

McRae has been convicted of seven felonies during the last two decades. In October, Judge Patrick Foley sentenced McRae to community control, commonly called probation.

He was still on community control when authorities said he shot the officer Sunday.

McRae's criminal record began with a gun. He was 18, charged with carrying a concealed weapon. After violating community control, he was sentenced to five months in prison.

In 2013, he was convicted of trafficking in cocaine and sentenced to seven months in prison after Judge Steven Martin determined McRae was not suited for probation. in 2006, McRae was convited of trafficking in cocaine and sentenced to six months in prison.

As McRae's record grew longer, the sentences got lighter.

In its 2016 annual report, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction emphasized that it enhances community-based supervision by encouraging local courts to establish "goals of reducing community control violators and Felony 4 and Felony 5 commitments to prison." That includes offenders like McRae.

In 2008, McRae was convicted of trafficking in marijuana and sentenced to community control, which he violated by being charged with an assault. After that, he was sentenced to a year in prison.

In 2016, McRae was convicted of trafficking in heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, the deadly drug often found mixed with heroin. He was once again given community control.

Dan Hils, the police union president, was critical of McRae's past sentences.

"These are the drugs that are killing people out on the streets, and we hear everybody in the community talking about it," Hils said. "Here, the police do their job. They bring forward a suspect in a case like that, and what does the back end of the system do? Community control. That's a joke."

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The 9 On Your Side I-Team first learned about McRae during an investigation of sentences given to convicted heroin traffickers in Hamilton County. The investigation discovered that during the previous year, convicted heroin traffickers were sentenced to community control in four out of 10 cases, and dealers with repeated felony convictions for drug trafficking were also receiving probation. One of them is Damion McRae.

"This person had no business being out in society," Hils said. "None whatsoever."

Prosecutor Joe Deters said the prosecution did not make a sentencing recommendation on the McRae case. He emphasized that the court is generally discouraged from from sending lower-level drug offenders to prision, largely as a result of sentencing laws and overcrowded prisons and jails.

Deters said he has assigned two employees to investigate the findings of the original 9 On Your Side investigation.