Saturday, July 15, 2000

Parole granted in death of officer

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Shawnta Robertson, the Avondale man imprisoned for manslaughter after a Covington police officer chasing him fell to his death, will be released from prison and returned to the Cincinnati area soon.

        Kentucky's parole board recommended Friday that Mr. Robertson, 22, be released after serving more than two years of his six-year sentence at the Blackburn Correctional Complex in Fayette County.

        The decision concludes an emotional case that ignited debate about the fairness of the criminal court system and prompted a new state law making fleeing from an officer a felony.

        The widow and some co-workers of Officer Mike Partin had lobbied against parole and on Friday held a press conference.

        “Even though we didn't get the verdict we want, we still believe in our system of justice,” said Bill Dorsey, Covington's assistant police chief.

(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Mr. Robertson and his family asked attorney Kenneth Lawson, of Cincinnati, to field questions.

        “I talked to him on the telephone several minutes ago and he wants to give thanks to God, and all the people who have supported him throughout this ordeal,” Mr. Lawson said. “He is sorry the incident happened, but he does not believe he was the cause of the officer's death.”

        In January 1998, Mr. Robertson was being chased on foot by a Kenton County police officer when he ran across the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge in downtown Covington. Officer Partin joined the chase and tried to jump from the roadway to the pedestrian walkway. Instead he fell through the space between the two.

        Mr. Robertson was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years. The Kentucky General Assembly passed a law upgrading the penalties for fleeing from police, naming the law for Officer Partin.

        Mr. Lawson said he thinks the parole board recognized that Mr. Robertson was not 100 percent responsible for Officer Partin's death.

        “What you have here is a kid that did something really stupid that night that resulted in a tragic death,” said Mr. Lawson.

        “The question has always been: Who should be held accountable, an officer who does not look before he jumps, or Shawnta?”

        Parole Board member Linda F. Frank, said she and the three other panelists who unanimously voted for release believe Mr. Robertson will abide by parole conditions and become “a productive member of society.”

        Mr. Robertson could be released in 60 to 90 days. Then he must stay out of Kenton County, get drug treatment and get a job. Mr. Lawson said he plans to live with his father in the Cincinnai area and hopes to re-enroll Cincinnati State Technical College.

        The officer's widow, Lisa Partin, said she is struggling to get on with her life.

        “He gets to go home. He will get to see his family again. Good for him. He is a lucky guy,” she said.

        “We get to go out to Highland Cemetery and sit on a bench and look at Mike's grave and say we lost, lost the battle to keep Shawnta in jail.”

Mike Partin Web page

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