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Chief: Officer Responding with Care When Cruiser Hit Pedestrian
CINCINNATI (Paula Toti) -- Cincinnati police called a news conference to stop any possible rumors surrounding the case of a police officer who hit a woman with his cruiser Saturday night, in Over-the-Rhine. Officer Orlando Smith was responding to a call for help from another officer when he hit the woman.
They say the woman hit, 36 year old Natalie Cole, is still in the hospital and is stable and doing better. They say the woman darted in front of the cruiser and the police chief says evidence shows the woman was not in a crosswalk.
Cruiser camera video released shows Smith was responding with lights and sirens. The camera stops before the woman was hit on Vine Street near Elder.
Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell apologized for that malfunction. He says this has happened before with heavy breaking and bumps. The camera systems can get disrupted. He said it was one of the older cameras in the department.
Officer Smith has been with the department since 1994. He called right away after hitting the woman to report the accident. He said it appeared the person hit had a leg injury.
Blackwell answered questions about Smith's past driving record. He's had five at fault accidents from 1996 to 2003. The chief says that's irrelevant and Smith has gone eleven years without an accident. The chief says he asked extra questions on the scene because Smith last November fatally shot a suspect who refused to stop, as he was driving toward police.
The chief says he heard over and over in the department that Smith is an excellent officer and an asset to the department.
The chief was also asked about how fast Smith was going. A report says he was going fifty miles an hour in a twenty five mile an hour zone. Department policy calls for no more than twenty over when responding to an emergency. The chief says that's only a guideline and the final report is still not finished.
He says he believes at this time the officer was responding with reasonable care, and a full investigation and reconstruction of the accident will take about two weeks.
Watch video HERE