Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Robber recounts shooting by police

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A man paralyzed by a police officer's bullet said Monday before a review panel that he failed to comply with the officer's orders because he was afraid of his baton and chemical irritant.

        Timothy Blair admitted he has a lengthy criminal record, including prison time for aggravated robbery and theft. But he bristled at questions that implied his experience with arrests possibly should have made him understand he should have gotten out of his car when Officer Daniel Carder told him to do so.

        He said he had no idea he was being stopped because he was a suspected shoplifter.

        “Don't come to a conclusion because you're part of the city and the cop's part of the city,” he told members of the Citizens Police Review Panel. “Come to a conclusion from your heart.”

        The panel heard Officer Carder's version of events last week in a closed-door session. Witnesses are allowed to ask that they talk privately with panel members.

        They are testifying about the November 1998 shooting outside a Kroger in Walnut Hills, where Mr. Blair was suspected of having stolen an over-the-counter painkiller. Officer Carder caught up with him as he tried to get into his car.

        Officer Carder said during previous investigations that his arm got tangled in Mr. Blair's coat during the struggle and that he was forced to shoot because he was being dragged by Mr. Blair, who was trying to drive away.

        Mr. Blair disputed that Monday, saying he didn't know why the officer was pounding on his car window and spraying him with chemical irritant. He said he did not comply with Officer Carder's order to get out of

        the car because the officer was trying to spray him and hit him with his baton.

        After Mr. Blair was shot, his foot hit the gas and the car slammed into a van, which then jumped onto a sidewalk and severely injured a 5-year-old boy. Mr. Blair, who is in a wheelchair, said he could not control the car after he was shot because he could not feel the lower half of his body.

        The panel asked City Council two weeks ago to subpoena Mr. Blair and another witness, security guard James Haney, after both men declined to cooperate. That prompted questions from city officials, who said they weren't certain the review panel should have such authority. The council rarely uses its subpoena power, officials said.

        The subpoena question is now moot related to Mr. Blair, who said at the end of his testimony that he thought he might go to jail if he didn't show up at City Hall on Monday night. The panel sent him a letter mentioning the possibility of a subpoena.

        Mr. Blair was convicted of robbery and felonious assault for the incident in which he was shot. Officer Carder remains on duty. City administrators have agreed to wait on any discipline until the panel makes its recommendations.


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