Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher was shocked the first time he saw the video of six officers struggling with the 342-pound Nathaniel Jones, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. “I have 33 years in, and I said, ‘Oh my God. This is a hell of a fight,’ ” he said. “My initial reaction to it was shock – not because they did anything wrong, but because it was so violent.” In an interview, Streicher said, “Even though it’s ugly, even though it looks terrible, when I compare it to our policies, I don’t see anything wrong there.”
Streicher explained why he believes the six officers who arrested the 41-year-old Jones on Sunday acted appropriately. Jones died from the struggle, complicated by his history of heart disease and drug use, Hamilton County’s coroner said. “I can envision this incident being used in training 10 years from now – and not just here,” Streicher said.
The chief’s comments angered attorney Kenneth L. Lawson, who is representing Jones’ family. Lawson said Streicher’s continued support for the officers is aimed at influencing the many investigations under way.
Streicher said two witnesses, a mother and daughter, said the officers didn’t taunt Jones. “It was not, in my estimation, an arrest situation. Nor should they arrest him. But they do say, ‘Hey, this guy needs some help.’ And it deteriorates in a matter of seconds. They had a legitimate authority – and in my estimation, an obligation – to arrest him in that situation. If you don’t, who does he turn on next?”
Why did officers use nightsticks on an unarmed man? “You are trying to protect yourself and overcome resistance,” Streicher said. “He is unarmed, but that doesn’t mean he can’t hurt you. A man of 350 pounds has tremendous strength, and officers didn’t know he didn’t have a weapon. It’s a potential life-and-death situation.”