SPRING FIELD – UPDATE @ noon (June 16):
A press conference involving Springfield city officials discussing Eric Cole’s death turned heated during a question-and-answer game when several family members asked Police Chief Lee Graf questions.
Family members, including people who identified themselves as Cole’s mother and sister, were among those speaking out at the press conference, questioning parts of the investigation and information shared with them in the early hours of the incident.
Cole died of his injuries around midnight early Monday morning after being shot and then struck by a police car responding to the shooting report.
Police identified the officer who hit Cole as Officer Amanda Rosalas, a two-year veteran of the department who is in her first job at the police academy, Graf said. Rosalas has been placed on administrative leave while investigations are ongoing.
Graf said three investigations had been opened in connection with this incident. A criminal investigation into the Cole shooting, which is being investigated by the Springfield Police. The investigation into the accident where Cole was hit by the Rosalas cruiser is being investigated by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. And the third is an internal police investigation initiated by the Ministry’s Professional Standards Unit.
Graf, along with other city leaders present at the press conference, pledged transparency and thoroughness throughout the investigations.
The criminal investigation into the shooting is being conducted by Springfield Police detectives and is still under investigation. Graf said there was no indication the shooting was directly linked to others in the city, but that part of the investigation was still ongoing.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol accident report has not been completed and is still under investigation, OSHP Sgt. Christina Hayes told News Center 7 on Wednesday.
The final external report of the internal police investigation will be made public once completed.
Cole’s cause and manner of death have not been determined by the Montgomery County coroner’s office, which is performing the autopsy. Graf said it is likely that his death will not be officially declared until a full toxicology report has been made, which usually takes weeks.
Graf said toxicology reports made by the coroner’s office after a death are standard, but stressed that part of the inquest is not handled by his department and is handled by investigators from the coroner’s office.
A point of contention at the press conference was when family members asked why Cole was given a toxicology report after his death, but family members asked if Rosalas had been given a breathalyzer after his death. the accident.
Graf said it was not departmental policy for an officer to be tested automatically after an accident, and only if there were signs of impairment. Graf said a department captain determined there was no sign of impairment with Rosalas and that she had not been given a breathalyzer test.
Graf added context, saying the same goes for normal citizens involved in accidents. If the drivers involved show no signs of impairment after an accident, they will not take a breathalyzer test, he said.
Graf began the press conference with a timeline breaking down the incident in chronological order. The officer was first notified at around 11:16 p.m. Sunday of a disturbance which escalated into gunfire. Officers were responding to the scene when they were told in other 911 calls that a person had been shot in the 1400 block of South Center Boulevard.
One of the 911 calls was made by Cole, saying he had been shot and believed he was dying.
Graf said the senior officer responding to the shooting report, who was Rosalas, was trying to grab addresses on the houses, failed to see Cole lying in the middle of the street and run over him.
Graf said the cruiser’s camera footage, released on Tuesday, is designed to only look straight ahead, and do not follow Rosalas’ eyes and what she might have been focusing on as she approached it. where Cole was lying and was eventually hit by the cruiser.
Officers are subjected to multiple possible distractions inside their police cars, Graf admitted. Police radio traffic, laptops, cameras placed on the cruiser all provide stimuli that can cause distractions or limit lines of sight and visibility ahead of the cruiser, he said.
Graf repeatedly pointed out during the press conference that the crushed Cole was an accident.
” It was an accident. It doesn’t mean it’s ok. It was an accident. It was not an intentional act on the part of the officer, I’m sure, ”Graf said. “Nothing to indicate that this was an intentional act on the part of the officer.” “
Graf said there had been other cases of citizens being hit by police cars in Springfield, including one estimated about a decade ago when a man was hit and killed by a police car on Mechanicsburg Road, Graf said.
Representatives of the new Community Policing Advisory Team and Denise Williams, president of the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP, also spoke at the press conference.
Williams stepped onto the podium just before the press conference ended, pointing out to family members that the agency would be involved in investigations throughout the investigation.
“I have you, but you have to trust us. We will have all the answers. We will ask all the tough questions and I guarantee there will be transparency, ”said Williams.
She added a request for calm and peace among citizens while investigations are completed and work is carried out by the NAACP.
“We cannot do our job if there is violence in the streets,” she said.
We will continue to update this story with developments as they become available.
FIRST REPORT (June 15):
A man who was shot dead in Springfield on Sunday night died of his injuries after also being hit by a police car responding to the shooting, according to a Springfield Police spokesperson.
Police are expected to discuss the incident at a morning press conference. News Center 7 will be present and this story will be updated with developments from city leaders.
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Eric Eugene Cole, 42, of Springfield died in Miami Valley hospital following the incident on Sunday night. Police were called to the 1400 block of South Center Boulevard just after 11:20 p.m. on the first reports of a person being shot, the police spokesperson said in a press release on Tuesday.
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“Cole was lying on the street when he was struck by a marked cruiser as the officer arrived at the scene in an emergency,” the spokesperson said.
Cole suffered from a gunshot wound to his arm and was first taken to Springfield Regional Medical Center and then airlifted to Miami Valley Hospital by the CareFight medical helicopter, where he later died.
Cole’s cause of death has not been disclosed.
The officer involved in the accident has not been identified by the police.
“Members of the Springfield Police Division have met with members of Eric Cole’s family regarding this incident,” the police spokesperson said.
The shooting incident is being investigated by Springfield Police while the accident portion is under investigation by the Ohio Highway Patrol.
We will continue to update this story as more details become available.
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