Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Melee photos could lead to arrests

Students may face charges

By Jane Prendergast, jprendergast@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        University of Cincinnati students who smiled for cameras during last weekend's street melee in University Heights may now face charges and school disciplinary action.

        Police and school officials have started looking at videotape and photographs taken overnight Saturday when Stratford Avenue hosted a party so out of hand that couches were burned and police protected themselves with riot gear.

A Cincinnati police officer and rescue worker clear debris from Stratford Avevue between Warner and McMillan.
| ZOOM | (Brandi Stafford photos)
Dominic DeRose 19, an Ohio State student from Columbus, shows reporters where he was apparently shot by a police beanbag or rubber bullet.
| ZOOM |
A shoeless man pleads with police to allow him on Stratford Avenue so he can go home. Police werenšt allowing anyone on Stratford who didnšt live there.
| ZOOM |
People outside a house on Stratford yell at police as they walk past.
| ZOOM |
Police tell a group they are not allowed on Stratford Avenue unless they live there.
| ZOOM |
        Just two people were arrested that night because officers needed to stay focused on dispersing the raucous crowd, a police official said Monday.

        But when officers start putting names to the pictured faces, more arrests are expected.

        Plus, UC's Student Code of Conduct subjects students to a range of disciplinary actions — including dismissal — for a variety of behavior, including failing to comply with state regulations regarding the use of alcohol and intentionally or recklessly damaging someone's property.

        By Monday, the charred furniture was removed from the street and cars, as usual, were parked bumper-to-bumper along both sides.

        Marjorie Klusmeyer, president of the University Heights/Fairview Community Council, said loud parties are commonplace, just not this loud and violent.

        “I don't know how we're going to solve it,” she said. “When I went to UC, we respected the people who lived around us.”

        Police reports released Monday show how the party — celebrating Cinco de Mayo — escalated.

        Police got the first call a little after 5 p.m., when a woman reported that very loud music was shaking the pictures on her walls.

        The next came in about 9:30 p.m., from somebody reporting that people on balconies were throwing bottles out into the street and shining a large light into faces of drivers going by.

        Officers went to Stratford Avenue, but said they needed more specifics because there were several parties going on.

        Then, at 10:30 p.m., a Papa John's pizza driver called to say a group of men, who looked like college students, were drinking and throwing bottles in the street.

        About an hour later, the partying got so out of hand that an assistant chief — Lt. Col. Richard Janke — arrived. Callers said the crowd was starting fires, throwing bottles, fighting with pipes and shooting people with BB guns.

Ohio students no strangers to police

Street parties that get out of hand and lead to arrests and violent confrontations with police have been a common occurence in Ohio and nationwide over the past year.

Ohio State University, Columbus, April 2001: Students and police clashed over two consecutive weekends at off-campus parties. On the third weekend, 137 people were arrested.

Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, May 2001: Block parties off campus led to 77 arrests on two consecutive weekend nights.

Ohio University, Athens, October 2001: The annual off-campus Halloween party turned into a street confrontation with police, as it has for years. This time, 86 people were arrested. It was the smallest number of arrests since 1990.

Ohio State University, Columbus, April 2002: Police arrested 26 people after a party on Chittenden Street — called “Chit Fest” — got out of hand. Charges ranged from underage drinking to assaulting a police officer.

        Cincinnati officers met in the Hughes High School parking lot to talk about how to handle the melee, according to a memo written to Chief Tom Streicher by Sgt. Jeffrey Hughes.

        But when officers walked down Stratford Avenue, the crowd had grown to 100-plus, and people began throwing bottles at officers, the sergeant's memo said. Lt. Col. Janke immediately called for help.

        Officers broke out their riot helmets and shields, and beanbag shotguns and packs of chemical irritant were distributed.

        By the time the melee calmed, officers had fired 15 beanbag rounds and arrested two people. One of them, Ryan Roberts, 19, of Westerville, was cut on the ear when he and two officers fell to the ground during a struggle, police reports said.

        Mr. Roberts was charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated, and obstructing official business after officers said he kept trying to enter the closed-off street and broke away twice as they tried to arrest him.

        Amanda Decker, 19, of Stratford Avenue, also was charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated after police said she refused to obey their orders.

Monday's story: Landlords angered by mini-riot damage
Sunday's story: Clifton parties turn into 'mini-riot'

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