Veteran Cincinnati police officer’s powers suspended

District 2 Officer Diondre Winstead is a member of the honor guard, was briefly suspended in 2016
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Published: Apr. 22, 2019 at 4:19 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A longtime officer of the Cincinnati Police Department and member of the agency’s Honor Guard has been stripped of his police powers, gun and badge amid an outside investigation, city records show.

District 2 Officer Diondre Winstead is on desk duty. He began his career with CPD as a recruit in September 2005 and became an officer in March 2006.

“PO Winstead’s police powers have been suspended. The City is not the lead on this investigation. As this is an ongoing investigation, the City cannot comment any further,” City Manager Patrick Duhaney wrote in an email to Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, chairman of the city’s Law and Public Safety Committee, that was copied to Chief Eliot Isaac.

Police officials did not respond to requests for comment.

This is the second time Winstead has been suspended and lost his police powers since 2016, according to records Cincinnati police released to us in 2017.

Cincinnati Police Officer Diondre Winstead in November 2018 (Photo: @AJGuglielmi Twitter feed)
Cincinnati Police Officer Diondre Winstead in November 2018 (Photo: @AJGuglielmi Twitter feed)

The officer’s current suspension comes at a time when a record number of CPD officers have been put on desk duty and stripped of their police powers in recent months.

9 Cincinnati police officers suspended in 2 months

The high-ranking police official who has been suspended is Captain Michael Savard, who lost his police powers in January.

Police have never said why.

Like Savard, Winstead has racked up hundreds of hours in recent years working off-duty details at bars and clubs.

Winstead has worked details at businesses such as Brownstone and Inner Circle.

He was also working at Cameo Night Club the night two men were killed and several others were hurt when gunfire broke out inside March 2017, police records show.

Winstead worked details at schools as well including Western Hills High and Hyde Park Elementary.

Police records show he has received reprimands for:

  • Striking a woman jogging across the street in the marked crosswalk while he was on routine patrol in a police vehicle and failing to report the auto accident to a supervisor in November 2016, police records show. "This notice is given to you with the hope you will improve your conduct and performance,” a supervisor wrote on the “Notice of Official Reprimand.”
  • Failing “to properly secure his issued duty weapon resulting in the theft of said weapon from a loaner car from a local vehicle repair company,” another police record states. It’s not clear if the weapon was ever recovered.

He received a Meritorious Service Award from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in 2013 for helping to apprehend an armed felon spotted by members of a local citizens’ patrol in College Hill the evening of Nov. 5, 2011, state records show.

The man fled on foot, and Winstead gave chase. The suspect jumped a three-foot wall onto an elevated driveway, where he pulled a gun and fired at Winstead, according to police.

Fearing injury to innocent people, Winstead did not return fire, but continued to pursue the subject, police wrote in staff notes in 2013. He and fellow officers found the man hiding in bushes and took him into custody.

Also in 2013, he was moved to District 4, where he began working in the Violent Crimes Squad on June 7, 2015, according to his personnel file.

During the summer of 2016, however, an internal investigation was launched into an allegation of “Law Violation by Officer,” police records show.

Winstead was stripped of his police powers, gun and badge and put on desk duty on June 3, 2016, according to police records.

His police powers were restored nearly two weeks later, on June 15, 2016.

He was moved to another area of the police department. His file does not indicate why.

Winstead was moved to District 2 and remained there, his personnel file states.

He was suspected by his then-co-workers of thwarting undercover drug investigations and tipping off drug dealers about police activity, according to records FOX19 NOW obtained two years ago related to his 2016 internal investigation.

The internal investigation closed with the allegation “Not Sustained," in March 2017, records show.

We requested the entire internal investigation file to review once a police spokesman confirmed in late May 2017 that it was over. We asked multiple times about it since initially hearing about the situation in July 2016. In 2017, the police released a few documents related to it.

We were told it would be several weeks before the full report would be released while privacy redactions were made.

But we never received it from CPD.

After multiple follow-ups, a police spokesman confirmed in late October 2017 the case was once again considered confidential and exempt from the public records law requiring its release due to an ongoing investigation.

He declined to elaborate, so it was not clear if the case was reopened or part of a new investigation or an ongoing one - and if that was the case, by which law enforcement agency.

It’s also not clear if the investigation targets the officer and/or another person (s) and/or or entity that came up during the internal investigation or another case.

We have continued to regularly check on the outcome of Winstead’s 2016 internal investigation.

It is still not subject to public release, according to Cincinnati’s City Solicitor’s Office.

We were most recently told April 1 by a city lawyer that the case remained confidential due to an ongoing investigation.

Former Assistant Police Chief David Bailey was asked about Winstead during a deposition he gave last year as part of a federal lawsuit filed by a former officer seeking reinstatement.

The internal investigation began and ended during Bailey’s tenure commanding CPD’s Investigations Bureau, which oversees Internal Investigations Section, Bailey explained to attorney Robert Croskery, who represents Jason Cotterman.

Related story: Former Cincinnati cop fights to get job back

According to the Aug. 31, 2018 deposition, Bailey said:

“Officer Winstead was assigned to a (violent) crime squad in District 4. They do some undercover work, narcotics activity. They have the opportunity to work with other agencies. One of those agencies was the Regional Narcotics Unit.

“The commander of the Regional Narcotics Unit (RENU with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office) believed that Officer Winstead had advised a suspect of an impending search before arrival, and as a result, they believe that the contraband was discarded. That was the allegation that came to CPD."

Bailey then stated: “CPD agreed to take on that investigation internally and look into it.”

However, the former commander for RENU, Brad Winall, told FOX19 NOW in a 2017 interview the leader of CPD’s internal investigation section at the time, Lt. Craig Gregoire, called him in June 2016 and asked RENU to turn the case over to CPD to handle.

Winall told us he honored the request, but he and RENU were ultimately disappointed at the outcome of CPD’s investigation based on what they originally were told.

Bailey said in his deposition CPD’s internal "investigation went on for many, many months. As you can imagine, there are things that we would have to do on our end to see if we can mimic that behavior. It didn’t work.

"There was a time where Internal believed that there was the opportunity to - to intervene, they went to District 4. They confiscated some cell phones that belonged to Officer Winstead, and they looked at those cell phones pursuant to a warrant to determine if there was interference with searches being done.

“The outcome of that search I will tell you proved negative. We had no more information. The case was closed non-sustained."

Then, Bailey said in his deposition, he pulled the accused officer aside and gave him some advice.

“I will tell you, upon conclusion of that investigation, I had Diondre Winstead come to my office and I had a very, very candid conversation with him. I told him what I believed he was doing and I advised him whatever he is doing, he had better stop. He said he understood, he shook my hand and he left.”

“So,” Croskery said, according to the deposition, “when you’re saying that the allegation was not sustained, you’re not saying the conduct didn’t necessarily occur, but rather that you were unable to find evidence to corroborate it that you felt was sufficient, is that right?”

“That’s correct," Bailey responded.

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