Thursday, July 20, 2000

Officer Hill fired after disciplinary hearing




By Mara H. Gottfried
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Convenience store camera records Officer Robert J. Hill III subduing of Robert L. Wittenberg. | ZOOM |
        The Cincinnati police officer found to have used excessive force when subduing an Alzheimer's victim was fired Wednesday.

        Officer Robert J. Hill III was dismissed for dishonesty, neglect of duty and failure of good behavior after a disciplinary hearing.

        A police internal investigation in March determined Officer Hill, a three-year veteran, used excessive force in November when he threw Robert L. Wittenberg of Silverton, then 68, to the floor of a United Dairy Farmers store in Madisonville.

        The 32-year-old officer was stripped of his police powers and placed on desk duty a day after the internal investigation was released.

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        Mr. Wittenberg and his wife, Mary, filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the city of Cincinnati, the police division and Officer Hill.

        “All I can say is, hurray,” said Mrs. Wittenberg.

        Fraternal Order of Police president Keith Fangman said he had not had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Hill on Wednesday night.

        “I don't know what his plans for the future hold,” Mr. Fangman said. “Civil service law gives him the right to appeal, but that does not guarantee him anything. If he does wish to appeal, an independent arbitrator will make the decision on any appeal filed by the officer.”

        On Nov. 14, Mr. Wittenberg wandered away from his home and entered the UDF store, muttering about someone needing help.

        A store employee contacted police and a dispatcher mistakenly relayed to responding officers that an intoxicated man was inside the store and threatening to hurt people with a drill and paint brush.

        Officer Hill, the first on the scene, threw Mr. Wittenberg to the floor and fell on top of him. A surveillance camera in the store recorded the incident.

       



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