City Agrees to Settlement in ‘Bones’ Lawsuit

The city of Cincinnati July 30 released the details of its settlement with the estate of David “Bones” Hebert over the Northside musician’s controversial 2011 police shooting death.

The city of Cincinnati July 30 released the details of its settlement with the estate of David “Bones” Hebert over the Northside musician’s controversial 2011 police shooting death.

Hebert’s estate will get $187,000 from the settlement, but the point, his advocates say, is the city’s acknowledgement that police acted improperly in his shooting death. In a statement about the settlement, the city acknowledges that the actions of officers on the scene contributed to Hebert’s death.

“Initial reports issued regarding the incident in 2011 declared that Mr. Hebert attacked a police officer with an opened knife or sword,” the city said in a press release about the settlement. “There was no sword. Furthermore, while an opened knife was recovered at the scene, the evidence that Mr. Hebert intended to attack or swipe at a police officer was not conclusive. Instead, Mr. Hebert’s actions, as well as actions taken by the officers on scene, contributed to the use of deadly force. The city regrets this unfortunate loss of life and again expresses its condolences to the family and those who cared for Mr. Hebert.”

Cincinnati Police Sgt. Andrew Mitchell shot Hebert in Northside after officers responded to a 911 call alleging Hebert robbed an intoxicated man and assaulted him with a pirate sword.

Hebert was located sitting on a sidewalk on Chase Avenue in Northside about 10 minutes later. During subsequent questioning, officers said Hebert drew a knife and moved toward an investigating officer, causing Mitchell to believe the officer’s life was in danger. Mitchell shot Hebert twice, killing him. Initial investigations cleared Mitchell of wrongdoing, but other reviews found he acted outside of police protocol, getting too close to Hebert and not formulating a plan for engaging him. Friends of Hebert have since made efforts to clear his name, saying he was a non-violent person caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. His advocates have set up a website, friendsofbones.org, to present evidence in the case.

“This statement is why this lawsuit was undertaken,” said Paul Carmack of the city’s explanation for the settlement in a post on social media. Carmack is representing Hebert’s estate. “Without this statement there would be no settlement. Bones wasn’t the attempted cop killer he was painted as, nor did he attempt suicide by cop. Bones was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in front of the wrong people. Today’s events allow Mr. and Mrs. Hebert to bury their son as the fun-loving, care-free spirit we all knew and love to this day.”

This isn’t the first case in which the city has paid out a settlement for Mitchell’s actions. In 2008, he tased 19-year-old Christopher Bauer from his patrol car, causing the teen to fall to the ground, chipping his teeth and sustaining a concussion. The city paid more than $200,000 in a civil rights lawsuit over that incident. Mitchell was responding to a false alarm about a burglary when he ordered Bauer to stop. Bauer, wearing headphones, didn’t hear him.

More recently, Mitchell has had other disciplinary issues. Last month, it was revealed two other Cincinnati police officers helped Mitchell try to cover up the fact he had been involved in a one-car accident on McMicken Street in Fairview in March. Calls to 911 about the accident reveal Mitchell was swerving and driving erratically just before the 5 a.m. crash. Mitchell and the other two officers who responded to the accident, Sgt. Richard Sulfsted and officer Jason Cotterman, have been suspended and face criminal charges over the cover-up.

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