Officers charged in crash, cover-up include sergeant who killed "Bones"

Crash, cover-up snares 3 Cincinnati officers

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A veteran Cincinnati Police District 5 sergeant and an officer are accused of breaking the law and covering up a fellow sergeant's crash.

Sgt. Richard Sulfsted and Officer Jason Cotterman faces misdemeanor charges of dereliction of duty and obstructing justice, said Lt. Danita Pettis, police spokeswoman.

District 5 Sgt. Andrew Mitchell, who shot and killed David "Bones" Hebert in Northside in 2011, was charged with one misdemeanor count each of reckless operation of a motor vehicle and operation without reasonable control of a vehicle.

All three were stripped of their police powers, guns and badges and placed on paid desk duty pending the outcome of their criminal cases, Pettis said.

According to court records, the officers removed Mitchell from the scene of a March 22 single-vehicle crash into an object on West McMicken Avenue in Fairview.  Pettis said Mitchell was off duty at the time and in a personal vehicle.

Sulfsted was the supervisor on duty when Cotterman responded to the scene and completed a crash report, according to a memo City Manager Harry Black sent to the Mayor and members of council on Tuesday. No charges were filed against Mitchell on the day of the crash.

Sulfsted and Cotterman concealed him from witnesses and other police officers and arranged for him to be taken to his home, internal affairs investigators wrote in sworn statements.

They also allegedly refused to acknowledge witness statements or properly investigate Mitchell's actions, condition or involvement in the crash.

Their actions resulted in their "failure to apprehend Andrew Mitchell for the offense of reckless operation of vehicles," investigators wrote.

The CPD Internal Investigation Unit learned of the crash the following day. Sulfsted was suspended on March 24 and Cotterman on May 1.

Charges were filed over the July 4 weekend following a months-long investigation by the CPD internal audit unit and a review by the City of Cincinnati Prosecutor's Office.

According to Black, the officers were arrested. None of the men had been processed through the Hamilton County jail, employees there said early Tuesday.

"All three officers police powers will remain suspended pending the outcome of the Municipal Court proceedings and any resulting disciplinary action by the City," states the city memo. Read the entire memo here.

"You certainly don't see Cincinnati police officers being arrested and charged with not handling their responsibilities for the manner in which they handled an investigation," she said. "No, it's not common practice, it's not commonplace and certainly it's not something we like to see in our officers. But when there is evidence presented that shows these charges are appropriate then obviously that is the appropriate course of action."

Mitchell is scheduled to appear Friday before a Hamilton County Municipal Court judge. Sulfsted, who has been with Cincinnati police more than 20 years, and Cotterman go to court July 12, Pettis said.

Mitchell has come under controversy before. He shot and killed David "Bones" Hebert while responding to a fight between Hebert and a friend four years ago.

Officers found Hebert with a female companion. They said he was intoxicated and had trouble standing.

Police have said Bones swiped a switchblade at officers, so Mitchell shot him.

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