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Paramedics Left Scene Before Fatal Police Struggle in Cincinnati

Why did the paramedics leave when police arrived at the scene of what turned out to be a deadly struggle with a nearly 400-pound suspect?

That's at least one of the questions that city leaders want answered, WLWT Eyewitness News 5's John London reported Monday.

Early Sunday morning, the first call for help was to firefighters, who received a report about a disorderly person at the White Castle restaurant in Avondale. When paramedics couldn't help 41-year-old Nathaniel Jones, they called police, who arrived a short time later.

When police got to the scene, the paramedics took off, which surprised the arriving officers, London reported. Below is part of a conversation between the officers that was captured on Officer James Pike's Cruiser Cam:

First Officer: "Where'd they go?"
Second Officer: "They called us to help and now they're bailing on us."

Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken and City Manager Valerie Lemmie said they want to know why the paramedics left.

"I think that's a legitimate issue, and one that we need more information on," Luken said Monday. Luken and Lemmie also are curious to know what happened during a 90-second period when the cruiser cam was not on when one of the officers arrived at the White Castle.

Cincinnati Fire Chief Robert Wright said he's going to look into it, but has been asked by invetigators not to interview those paramedics just yet, London reported.

Once police subdued Jones and realized he needed medical attention, one of the officers could be heard on the videotape saying, "He's got a pulse, but he's not breathing."

Leaders want to know if the approximately two minutes it took for medical help to return could have helped keep Jones alive, London reported.

Jones Had Drugs In System

Jones, who died at University Hospital, had cocaine and PCP in his system at the time of his death, according to a statement from the Hamilton County coroner.

Also, Jones had a "markedly enlarged heart, consistent with hypertensive heart disease," the coroner said.

Jones' Girlfriend Knew Him For Years

Deborah Lewis said she'd only been dating Jones for a couple of months, but knew him much longer than that, and added that the ordeal that was caught on tape was surprising, WLWT Eyewitness News 5's Brian Hamrick reported.

"I've never seen him raise his voice," Lewis said. "Over all the years I've known him, since high school, I've never seen him mad. We're talking over 20 years."

Lewis added that Jones was a father of two who held a job and enjoyed bowling, but it's how he died that had those who never knew him talking about him Monday.

"Every line was busy," local radio talk show host Lincoln Ware said.

Officers Placed On Leave

In all, six officers have been placed on administrative leave:

  • Pike
  • Baron Osterman
  • Thomas Slade
  • Guy Abrams
  • Jay Johnstone
  • Joehonny Reese
  • Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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