Morning News: Video released in downtown police shooting; Cranley, Simpson feud over union raises; needle exchange temporarily halts

Cincinnati Police yesterday released more information, including video footage, involving the police shooting of Jawari Porter downtown.

Good morning all. Hope you like changing T-shirts 10 times a day or staying inside all the time, because those are your two options right now. So maybe turn the air conditioner up, tilt that fan toward your face and let’s start this news party as we all try not to melt.

Cincinnati Police yesterday released more information, including video footage, involving the police shooting of Jawari Porter downtown. Porter, who family members say was suffering from mental illness, allegedly took items from the Vine Street Kroger in Over-the-Rhine and threatened a security guard there with a knife. Police caught up with him downtown. Two officers in a police SUV stopped near Porter, and one drew his gun as Porter approached. Video shows Porter seeming to rush at the officer, who is standing behind the vehicle’s open door. Officer Anthony Burcato fired six shots, killing Porter. The 25-year-old Porter had been in and out of mental health facilities and was a semi-regular face at the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, where he had applied just last week to sell Streetvibes. His family believes he might have been off of medication prescribed for his mental illness.

• If you’re a regular reader of the epic, never-ending narrative odyssey that is the morning news, you know that when I say “city worker raises,” you’re about to get the next chapter in an ongoing political saga rivaling the best TV wrestling or soap opera plot, or maybe a low-key episode of House of Cards where no one gets murdered (we hope). So yeah, here it is.

As I told you in our last installment, Councilwoman Yvette Simpson took to social media yesterday to present an alternative to Mayor John Cranley’s proposal that would boost wages for up to 6,000 city employees represented by major unions outside the city’s normal collective bargaining process. Simpson’s alternatives were amending the budget and bringing the key unions back to the table to renegotiate the old-fashioned way. Both approaches would require Council’s approval, but the difference seems to be in how raises for city employees are arrived at. Simpson’s post led to a back and forth between her and Cranley as to their merits and details of their respective plans. Cranley claims Simpson’s ideas are identical to his and that her opposition is a political move, which was more or less what Simpson said about Cranley’s idea. After Simpson’s post yesterday, Cranley wrote a letter to City Council inviting them to meet with him about his plan. Simpson fired back, suggesting there was no need for that or for Cranley’s proposal. This game of “I know you are, but what am I?” and others like it could go on for quite a while. Cranley is running for re-election next year and Simpson is mulling a primary challenge against him.

• Does the prosecutor’s office make it more difficult for the families of crime victims to play a part in the justice process? The mother of a murdered woman thinks so, saying the prosecutor “disrespected” her by notifying her at the last minute that her daughter’s killer was being sentenced to 19 years in prison after a plea deal. Quamar Edwards (no relation) murdered Tiffany Edwards in Walnut Hills in 2014. Tiffany's mother Temeka has been waiting two years for justice in that case. She was told Quamar would go to trial in September, but she got a call on Monday while she was at work on the West Side telling her that the trial would take place within an hour. Though she was able to make it downtown in time, she says she was not consulted beforehand or given enough notice that a major development was happening in her daughter’s murder case. The prosecutor’s office issued an apology for the situation, but also said that Quamar suddenly decided to take the plea deal and that time was of the essence. Prosecutors aren’t required to communicate with victims’ families when it comes to sentencing or trial proceedings. As this story relates, that kind of scenario can raise big frustrations for the families of crime victims.

• Well, if you’re into enormous skywheels, this probably isn’t a great day for you. The Army Corps of Engineers yesterday rejected plans for a 235-foot-tall, $10 million observational Ferris Wheel-type structure at Newport on the Levee, calling it a "public safety issue." The reason? Drilling down into the levee could destabilize it. Come on, though. You can’t have thrills without some risk, right? (No, I’m totally wrong and messing with the levee is a terrible idea). In the letter to would-be skywheel builders Koch Development, the Army Corps suggested alternate locations for the skywheel off the levee, so the idea might not be dead yet. Maybe they could put it on the Purple People Bridge where they wanted to put that railroad hotel.

• Quick news: Cincinnati is the eighth-most pet friendly city in the country according to personal finance website Wallethub. I love dogs, so I love this. The survey found that more pets are moving to Cincinnati every year, especially young, creative class pets with a taste for condos, juice cleanses and brunch. Or, wait, that’s their owners. But probably also the pets. Joking aside, the study measured 19 factors including walkability and number of vets per pet (or maybe per person? I don’t know if pet census data is up to date).

• A needle exchange project that looks to fight the spread of disease among intravenous drug users in the Greater Cincinnati area has suspended operations temporarily after its director was arrested for possessing drug paraphernalia late Friday afternoon. Elizabeth Harrison had been working out of her personal SUV because the Cincinnati Exchange Project’s official van is in the shop. She stopped on the side of I-71 and fell asleep after a bout of hypoglycemia. When she came to, Norwood Police officers were asking questions about the syringes and other material in her vehicle. Harrison was then jailed on possession of paraphernalia charges, which are pending as tests are run on the material officers found. Harrison pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges on Saturday. CEP is working to get its van back on the road before it resumes services.

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