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Deadly Cincinnati Police Shooting: Justified or Avoidable?

Some groups argue the weekend shooting death of a Cincinnati homeless man was avoidable. (Pixabay)
Some groups argue the weekend shooting death of a Cincinnati homeless man was avoidable. (Pixabay)
August 10, 2016

CINCINNATI - While prosecutors say a deadly police shooting in Ohio was justified, some community groups argue the tragedy was avoidable. After robbing a Cincinnati grocery store on Sunday morning and threatening a security guard with a knife, officials say 25-year-old Jawari Porter lunged at Officer Anthony Brucato. Brucato fired six shots, killing Porter.

Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, said Porter was homeless and had a history of mental illness. He added the big question is what could have been done to prevent Porter's death, both before and during his encounter with the officer.

"Human life is of such importance and value that we don't want to assume the only option the police officer had was to pull the trigger," he said. "We also don't want to assume the only destiny in Jawari's future was to end up in this interaction."

Porter, a former foster child, attended college before getting in trouble with the law, and had received sporadic mental-health treatment. The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and Black Lives Matter released a joint statement condemning the shooting. They're calling for an indictment of Brucato, public access to witnesses and officer statements from the scene, and the release of unaltered surveillance video.

Spring said different protocols are needed for how officers can handle these types of situations. He added that the community also could work harder to ensure people with mental illness get the services they need before they reach the point of making irrational decisions.

"We want to see a society in which certainly people are cared for, and where we don't assume that the only way to defend oneself in a violent situation is by taking a life," he said. "It's worth having a conversation of other options."

He noted that due to limited funding, mental-health and social services lack the flexibility to meet people where they are, which can lead to some, like Porter, falling between the cracks.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH