Monday, September 04, 2000

Motorists fill in details of fatal night

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        While it did nothing to dull the pain of a police force mourning the loss of one of its own, more pieces fell into place Sunday in the puzzle surrounding Friday's death of Cincinnati Officer Kevin Crayon.

        Homicide officers said an investigation revealed no surprises:

        • Officer Crayon died after being dragged more than 800 feet by a Ford Taurus driven by 12-year-old Courtney Mathis.

        • The 40-year-old officer fell from the Taurus and landed under a car at Colerain Avenue and North Bend Road. However, that car did not run over him.

        • Nothing explained Courtney's reaction to Officer Crayon's command to stop the car in the Mount Airy United Dairy Farmers parking lot. No drugs or stolen goods were found in the relative's car the seventh-grader took without permission after sneaking from his mother's home.

How it happened
        Interviews with other drivers who fled Friday morning's Colerain Avenue scene but subsequently talked to police confirmed the incident as reported by witnesses.

        Authorities are anxious for more details, which could come shortly. On Sunday, a clerk at the Hamilton County coroner's office confirmed that autopsies on Officer Crayon and the 12-year-old boy were complete. However, he would not release their contents.

        Coroner Dr. Carl Parrott could not be reached. Cincinnati Safety Director Kent Ryan said the reports have not yet been received by police.

        Sunday's disclosure of more details in the case did little to lessen the sting for a 1,000-member division mourning the 97th city officer to be killed in the line of duty since the first in 1846.

        “Who would have thought a 12-year-old could have created so much heartache for the whole community?” said Keith Fangman, president of Queen City Lodge No. 69 of the Fraternal Order of Police.

        Officer Crayon died on Colerain Avenue about 12:45 a.m. Friday after trying to stop the underage driver, who was backing out erratically in a parking lot where other people were gathered.

        The officer, a father of three who had been a policeman only four years, reached into the car as the youngster backed out. He either could not free himself or would not let go as Courtney wove south on Colerain Avenue.

        Officer Crayon shot Courtney once in the chest, fell from the Taurus, and landed under a Cadillac. Courtney's car also hit the Cadillac.

        That driver called a 911 operator, said he was chasing the Taurus, but didn't return to the death scene.

        Police also wanted to talk to the driver of a Chevrolet Cavalier who was at the intersection where Officer Crayon died.

        Encouraged by police pledges not to prosecute, the Cadillac and Cavalier drivers came forward over the weekend.

        Police on Sunday would not identify the drivers. However, Spec. Charlie Beaver said their recollections helped pin down details and confirm what other witnesses told police.

        After being shot, Courtney drove home to his Colerain Avenue apartment complex and died at 5:07 a.m. after emergency sur gery at Children's Hospital Medical Center.

        It was difficult for officers to go about doing their jobs this weekend — including monitoring Sunday's gigantic Riverfest crowd — while still grieving over the death of a fellow officer, police spokesman Lt. Ray Ruberg said.

        “Officers have to be focused,” he said. “It's a difficult process. We have to keep doing our jobs. There's really no time to grieve. But we still have to be out there.”

        Mr. Fangman agreed: “After a brother officer is killed in the line of duty, it's difficult to think of anything else. And whether you have to work Riverfest or run a beat in Avondale or Mount Airy, it's hard to do after one of your co-workers has been killed.

        “Also you're in an environment where the citizens are laughing it up and having a great time,” he said. “But there are a lot of cops hurting inside in the middle of all that fun.”

In the Line of Duty: A special section on Officer Crayon
- Motorists fill in details of fatal night
Underage drivers: Plenty take risk
Results of our news poll
Funeral details and memorials
Gas station worker recalls how officer worked his beat

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