GRAPHIC: Video shows Cincinnati police academy training before recruit’s collapse

The grueling ‘Redman’ leave recruits physically exhausted.
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 9:59 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - Video and documents released Wednesday show that a Cincinnati police recruit who suffered a medical emergency earlier this month participated in a series of five training exercises against five different training officers with little to no break in between, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.

Each exercise John Brown II participated in lasted roughly 2.5 minutes, the videos show. He suffered what has been described as a medical emergency after the training concluded and he had walked to a break room.

City officials released the documents and video in response to the public records request made by The Enquirer. On Tuesday, Brown’s mother pleaded with authorities to tell her what happened in the Jan. 19 training.

Brown, called Johnny by his friends and family, is part of the 111th Cincinnati Police Department recruit class, which is set to graduate Feb. 4.

This type of training, called “stress inoculation,” is widely used by police departments nationally and in Ohio’s police academies. It simulates suspects who refuse to cooperate or become combative.

The video shows that safety officers are present and others in the room are yelling encouragement. Several times training officers remind Brown to breathe, but experts told The Enquirer that is not unusual and it is code for reminding the officer to think through his or her training.

The sessions are extremely physical in nature. Both the recruits and the training officers are out of breath at times.

As Police Chief Eliot Isaac told The Enquirer on Tuesday there is no evidence of “hazing” being involved, as had been rumored.

An internal police investigation, described by interim City Manager John Curp as a voluntary root cause analysis, is underway. After Brown collapsed Isaac suspended the use of the training drill in deference to the “emotional and mental wellbeing” of the recruits and trainers, a city memo said.

Brown, 36 and a former United States Marine, according to his mother, remains hospitalized in serious condition, city officials said Wednesday. His mother said Tuesday he was unable to breathe on his own and cannot communicate.

‘Redman’ drill tests recruits in confrontation situations

The training Brown was doing is also called the “Redman” drill and involves the recruit facing attacks or resistance from instructors wearing pads and boxing gloves.

Police documents state the drill is designed to enhance the ability of the recruits to “think clearly, minimize panic and use measured force under pressure.”

The “simulated violent confrontation” tests the recruit’s will to win, but in the end, they will win, the documents state.

There is no set time for the engagements. The instructors watching the confrontation determine the length based on the performance of the individual recruit. Documents provided by the city of Cincinnati state that an instructor will make a 30-second call, which signals to the other instructor doing the fighting to decrease their resistance.

Instructors are told to use no more than 60% of their speed and power.

All told, the videos show Brown engaged in the confrontations for 10 minutes and 17 seconds.

A statement from the city said the exercise will be stopped when the recruit demonstrates the desired technique, physical exhaustion sets in or if any medical issue occurs.

More than 10 minutes of confrontations

There are five different scenarios with resets in between, but “there were little to no breaks in between the scenarios,” city officials said.

As the confrontations take place, several safety officers surround the recruit and the instructor doing the fighting.

The videos show Brown starting each exercise with a coat over his head. He is given a prompt about what is about to happen. In three of the exercises, the instructor actively attacks Brown hitting him with boxing gloves on. Two the scenarios start with the instructor on top of Brown. Four of the exercises lasted between two and three minutes. It is unclear how long the final one lasted as the video appears to be cut short.

Throughout the training, the instructors surrounding the confrontation give Brown advice and instructions. They tell him to keep breathing and stay calm. Others in the room shout words of encouragement. By the second exercise, Brown is breathing heavily.

The city statement said this training comes after 25 weeks of the 28-week academy curriculum. All police recruit participants must meet a physical fitness standard based on each recruit’s age and gender.

What happened next

After the final training, Brown was escorted to a breakroom by a safety officer, according to a statement from the city. That officer reported Brown was talking and responsive. Brown was left in the breakroom with other recruits participating in the training that day.

At some point, Brown collapsed. A firefighter going through the academy to become an arson investigator rendered first aid until an ambulance arrived and took Brown to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He remains there now, according to his family.

Shaka Bridges, Brown’s brother, described Brown as a “well-mannered, bright, young man” who is a devoted father and “loved dearly by friends and family.”

Bridges said his brother remains in intensive care and while Brown can’t talk, he has opened his eyes and nodded his head. He also suffered a series of small strokes, Bridges said.

“His spirit is there, he just needs to rest,” Bridges said.

“I would truly hope that CPD would conduct a thorough review of this training incident, and take the necessary actions, whether that be corrective training, discipline, and or criminal charges should the need arises,” said Bridges, a 21-year veteran of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in Kentucky.

“As a retired officer I can’t remember a time when a struggle went on 13 minutes,” Bridges said. “When you are struggling or fighting or trying to subdue somebody, 30 seconds seems like a lifetime. There would be backup.

“The continuous nature of the training concerns me,” Bridges added. “This doesn’t need to happen to anyone during training.”


A GoFundMe has been created to help Brown’s family.

>> Cincinnati police recruit family fund <<

His friends tell FOX19 NOW that his wife is pregnant with the couple’s third child.

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