UPDATE: Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters today said that he will not seek charges against officers involved in the shooting death of Jawari Porter Sunday morning, and that videos related to the shooting should be released.
The video footage (contained in pages four and eight of this document provided by Cincinnati Police) shows Porter approaching and appearing to lunge at Officer Anthony Burcato while the officer is sitting in the driver's seat of a police SUV and pointing a gun at Porter. Officer Patrick Galligan then comes around to the driver's side and pulls Porter out of the car, apparently after he has been shot. Another, earlier video taken within Kroger shows a man holding a knife up to a security guard's throat as the guard attempts to block him from exiting the store.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac told media in a Monday news conference that video of a police-involved shooting and a preceding robbery exists, but won’t be available immediately because Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters has subpoenaed it.
Two Cincinnati police officers shot and killed 25-year-old Jawari Porter near downtown’s Government Square Sunday morning after authorities say he pulled a knife on an officer and tried to attack him in his cruiser.
According to a 911 call placed by a Kroger employee, a man stole “four or five” items from the store, and when confronted by a security guard, pulled a knife on him. The security guard relented and the suspect fled, the employee said.
Officers Anthony Brucato and Patrick Galligan were responding to that call when they spotted Porter, who fit the description of the robbery suspect, downtown. As Brucato opened his car door to exit, Porter attacked him with a knife, Isaac said during the news conference. Brucato drew his weapon and fired six times, according to Isaac, killing Porter.
Isaac called the attack “vicious and violent,” and said that Brucato was forced to defend himself.
Following Isaac’s remarks, Mayor John Cranley spoke, reiterating police’s claim that Porter was trying to kill an officer.
"It's important to recognize, based on what we just heard, that we could have been in a situation where an officer could have been killed," Cranley said during the news conference.
Cranley told media that the city would like video of the shooting and the robbery released as soon as possible.
The shooting comes during continued frustrations between police and black communities across the country around inequities in law enforcement. Tensions sprang up briefly in the aftermath of Porter’s shooting as Isaac gave a brief news conference at the scene. A few bystanders shouted during the chief’s remarks, but the incident quickly dissipated.
Activists and advocates for the homeless in Cincinnati have decried the shooting, citing witnesses who say Porter was suffering from mental illness. In a statement, activists with Cincinnati Black Lives Matter cite witnesses who claim officers yelled "show me your hands" at Porter and shot him before he reached the car. They question whether officers escalated the situation needlessly.
“There are not nearly enough resources and proper treatment for people with mental illness,” representatives from Black Lives Matter Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless said in a statement released Aug. 9. “Our society and our system in general failed Jawari Porter.”
Porter’s shooting is the third death involving on-duty Cincinnati police officers this year, with a fourth involving an off-duty CPD officer. In January, officers shot and killed Robert Tenbrink in Price Hill after he pointed what turned out to be a BB gun at officers after robbing several stores in the area. The next month, officers shot and killed Paul Gaston in Cheviot after they say he reached for his waistband. That shooting has remained controversial. In May, off-duty officer Kevin Hankerson shot and killed Terry Frost as he attempted to rob a bank in Madisonville. Porter, Frost and Gaston were black. Tenbrink was white.