By Janice Morse
Enquirer staff writer
Internal investigators have cleared a Cincinnati police officer of wrongdoing in a nationally televised case of an alleged illegal search and racial profiling.
But controversy over the 2002 incident is still simmering because an independent review panel found fault with the officer's actions.
In a decision released Friday, the police department's internal investigations section concluded that a videotape shows that Robert Short of Forest Park consented to Officer Ron Dammert's request to search him at Vine and 13th streets in November 2002.
"I'm really happy with the internal finding because I didn't do anything wrong," Dammert said Friday.
Short alleged he was stopped and searched because he is black.
But in the internal report, Dammert told investigators he stopped Short because he was behaving suspiciously by "changing direction and walking away each time Officer Dammert approached."
Dammert questioned the timing of Short's complaint, noting that Short filed his allegations in April 2004, following Dateline NBC's documentary on racial profiling - 18 months after the incident.
Short said he felt intimidated into being searched and when he attempted to make a complaint shortly after the incident, the internal report says.
But after Short did file his allegations this year, he canceled an interview with internal investigators and did not respond to attempts to reschedule it, the report says.
Short's mother, Kathy Shives, who helped her son file the complaint, said the Citizen Complaint Authority, an independent police review agency, issued findings that contrast with the internal investigation.
But Shives declined further comment and said Short was unavailable.
On Friday, a receptionist at the Citizen Complaint Authority's office said she did not have access to the Dammert report and could not release it to the Enquirer. But Keith Fangman, vice president of the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police, said Dammert showed him a copy of the authority's report after it was issued several weeks ago.
Fangman said that report and other cases show the authority routinely ignores facts and makes "decisions that fly in the face of state and federal law."
"We have complained over the past few months a number of times to the mayor and the city manager about other cases," he said. "This has gone on far too long."