City manager questions discipline of second CPD officer who used racial slur

City manager questions discipline of second CPD officer who used racial slur

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati’s City Manager is raising questions about another incident in which an officer used the ‘N-word’.

In this case, City Manager Patrick Duhaney says the officer, Donte Hill, is African American.

Earlier this week, a white Cincinnati Police Officer Dennis Barnette was suspended after he used the same racial slur while attempting to arrest a black woman during an incident at Brownstone Nightclub in Roselawn last Saturday.

READ | Mother of woman at center of CPD racial slur case: ‘She was traumatized’

In the case of Donte Hill, Dunhaney writes in an email that he is concerned about the discrepancy between the handling of the two cases.

“The offending officer received only a reprimand because the matter was incorrectly categorized when presented to Chief Isaac. This error was only recently discovered. The matter is now being evaluated by the Internal Investigations Section, which is what should have occurred initially, per CPD policy," said Duhaney in an email to Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and members of city council.

Hill was not suspended at the time of the incident but Duhaney says his police powers have been suspended and he has been restricted to desk duty until the conclusion of the investigation.

In an email to Duhaney, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac says the incident happened on Sept. 26 during a family trouble call for service in the 3000 block of McHenry Avenue.

Chief Isaac says following an investigation by District supervision and the Internal Investigations Section, District 3 recommended a written reprimand for the violation.

City manager questions discipline of 2nd CPD officer who used racial slur

Isaac says he approved the written reprimand: “However, it was brought to my attention yesterday by a member of the IIS team that Officer Hill’s conduct was as egregious as Officer Barnette’s and that I needed to view the Body Worn Camera footage. After viewing the footage, I agreed and determined the 1.06B violation was not appropriate.”

Sgt. Dan Hils, president of the union that represents Cincinnati police, released the following statement, “Although we hear it often in the street, there is no place for it in a professional agency.”

The Cincinnati NAACP also released a statement: “It is unacceptable for anyone acting under the color of the law to use racial slurs, period. Consequences for such behavior should be consistent."

City Council members also reacted to the news, including Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman: “The use of the N word is unacceptable by any city employee or city official and all incidents must be treated the same.”

State Sen. Cecil Thomas, a retired Cincinnati police detective, said internal investigators will issue a finding that will go onto the chief who has the last word within the police department on discipline.

If the officers disagreed with the decision, they an appeal to an arbitrator, who will issue a final decision.

“Back in the day, those kinds of words were loosely used,” Thomas said. “And depending on who you were determined whether you got disciplined or not.”

Read the email below from Duhaney to the mayor and council:

I have received information about a separate recent incident in which a Cincinnati Police Department officer used a racial slur while interacting with a constituent. The officer is African-American.

The offending officer received only a reprimand because the matter was incorrectly categorized when presented to Chief Isaac. This error was only recently discovered. The matter is now being evaluated by the Internal Investigations Section, which is what should have occurred initially, per CPD policy.

The officer’s police powers have been suspended and he has been restricted to desk duty until the conclusion of the investigation.

Please see the email below from Chief Eliot Isaac for more information.

The investigation and disciplinary process will be handled in accordance with the labor contract.

As stated previously, both Chief Isaac and I deem this type of language as unacceptable not in line with the standard of conduct we expect from City employees.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding this matter.

And the email from Chief Isaac:

Mr. Duhaney,

On September 26, 2018, District Three Officer Donte Hill responded to 3097 McHenry Avenue for a family trouble call for service. During the incident, Officer Hill used excessive profane language and also utilized a racial slur (the “N” word) when addressing the individuals involved. The matter was investigated by District supervision and not the Internal Investigations Section(IIS). District Three recommended a written reprimand for the violation. The reprimand was approved through the chain of command and a form 17 memo was presented to me on 10-23-18, where I approved the recommended 1.06B violation of the department’s Manual of Rules and Regulations as recommended in the memo. However, it was brought my attention yesterday by a member of the IIS team that Officer Hill’s conduct was as egregious as Officer Barnette’s and that I needed to view the Body Worn Camera footage. After viewing the footage, I agreed and determined the 1.06B violation was not appropriate. The charge should have been a 1.23C violation and violation of city Admin. Regulations; additionally the matter should have been investigated by IIS.

Again this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated inside the department. I have directed that Officer Hill’s police powers be taken and he is restricted to desk duty. I have also directed the department’s Internal Investigations Section to begin an immediate investigation to determine all of the facts of the incident. I will keep you updated on the progress of the investigation and have a recommendation for discipline to you at the conclusion of the disciplinary process.

Body cam video from both incidents will be released on Monday, FOX19 NOW has learned.

How discipline is handled within the Cincinnati Police Department has come under harsh criticism over the past year.

Cincinnati police officials were accused in a federal lawsuit filed by two white officers of favoring black officers through unconstitutional, race-based double standards.

Then, in October, the police union president asked the city manager to look into what he called “mismanagement" of CPD’s internal administrative review and discipline process.

"Unsanctioned and inconsistent discipline” in several use of force cases is having a chilling effect on officers' ability to proactively police - and could make them hesitate to use force when necessary, Hils wrote in a letter to Duhaney.

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