More than four years ago, Cincinnati Police Department Officer Orlando Smith shot and killed Dontez O’Neal on a dead end street. The city’s three-step process for investigating such fatal shootings cleared Smith of any wrongdoing in the shooting, meaning he never faced criminal charges or internal discipline, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. O’Neal’s mother Anternitia still has questions, such as whether her son really had a gun or shot at Smith. “They murdered my boy and then told a story just to make themselves look good,” she said. O’Neal is one of 17 people Cincinnati officers shot and killed since 2010, and all were reported to have a weapon.
Like Smith, not one of the officers in those shootings that have been fully investigated faced any discipline, an Enquirer investigation shows. None faced any criminal charges, and it’s unclear how many cases were presented to a grand jury. Decisions against pressing charges often came quickly. In most cases, the investigation was nowhere near complete. That’s in contrast with the case against former University of Cincinnati policeman Ray Tensing, who was immediately fired and eventually tried for murder for shooting and killing unarmed motorist Sam Dubose. Tensing’s first trial ended in a hung jury and a second trial is set for May. Why have all these officers been cleared? Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters says it is simple: all those shot were reported to have a weapon. “Ninety-nine percent of these cases aren’t tough calls,” Deters said. “If you don’t want to be shot by the Cincinnati police, don’t shoot at the Cincinnati police, don’t pull a gun on the Cincinnati police, don’t pull a knife on the Cincinnati police.”