Multiple agencies are investigating the incident, which police say was an accident. The victim’s mother says she wants the officer to be held accountable.
A police officer in Ohio is on leave after dashcam video showed her patrol cruiser running over a shooting victim, who died shortly afterward, officials said.
Springfield police Officer Amanda Rosales was behind the wheel of an SUV cruiser Sunday night when the vehicle ran over Eric Cole, 42, according to video from inside the cruiser.
Cole, a Black man, was lying on his back in the street and bleeding heavily from wounds to his left arm and his left shoulder, police said.
The incident occurred shortly before 11:30 p.m. Cole was airlifted to a hospital and pronounced dead after midnight on Monday, Police Chief Lee Graf said at a news conference Wednesday.
In a sometimes tense media briefing attended by Cole’s relatives, Graf offered his condolences to the family. He said that the officer’s actions were unintentional and that the accident may have occurred because officers rushing to the scene were unclear exactly where to find the shooting victim.
“The lead officer was trying to catch addresses on the house. Eric was lying in the street,” Graf said. “This was an accident. It doesn’t mean it’s OK. It was an accident. This was not an intentional act on the part of the officer. I am sure of that.”
Regardless, Graf said, multiple investigations have been launched, including an internal inquiry and a crash investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Rosales, who was hired in January 2020, was on paid leave Thursday, a city spokeswoman said.
Rosales could not be reached for comment.
Police continue to investigate who shot Cole. There had been no arrests as of Thursday afternoon, the city spokeswoman said.
Two dashcam videos police released to NBC News showed Cole being run over from different perspectives. One video, 95 seconds long, was recorded by a patrol vehicle trailing Rosales’ vehicle. The video from Rosales’ cruiser is slightly longer than 2 minutes.
The videos show Cole’s white shirt covered in blood, and he appears to be holding something up to his face shortly before the vehicle runs him over. Officers are seen exiting their vehicles and moving toward Cole after the cruiser drove over him. Graf said Wednesday that the officers rendered aid to Cole.
Cole called 911 shortly before Rosales ran over him, Graf said.
“He had, in fact, called and had said he had been shot. He was obviously very scared … saying he thought he was dying,” Graf said.
Graf stressed that the view from a dashcam is not always indicative of what a driving officer sees, noting that the camera is stable and that motorists tend to move inside vehicles while driving.
“That camera focuses where it’s pointed. It’s not an indicator of what the officer was seeing,” Graf said.
At Wednesday’s event, Cole’s family seemed incredulous at Graf’s explanation. Cole’s mother, Regina Wilson, wondered why she did not immediately learn about Rosales’ actions, NBC affiliate WDTN of Dayton reported.
Wilson asked Graf why she was not told “that she ran over my son.”
“I want the officer held accountable just like if they get the suspect, they will hold him accountable,” Wilson said.
Police and city officials were also criticized Wednesday because an incident report did not mention the cruiser’s running over Cole. Officials said that was because a report about the shooting was separate from a report about the on-duty vehicle accident, which is being handled by the Highway Patrol.
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office will determine the cause and manner of Cole’s death. Brandy Burchett, the office’s chief investigator, said Thursday over email that those answers are pending and could take up to 12 weeks while the office awaits results of toxicology and other tests.
Denise Williams, president of the Springfield chapter of the NAACP, joined police and city officials at Wednesday’s event and addressed Cole’s mother, promising Wilson that the organization will hold police accountable.
“Mom, I’m asking you to trust the NAACP,” Williams said. “You can call me any time with your questions. We will ask all of the hard questions, and I guarantee you there will be complete transparency.”