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New Video In Cincy Suspect Death

New videotape taken before Cincinnati police subdued a suspect Sunday who later died shows the man acting strangely, and may shed new light on an incident that has stirred lingering tensions between the Queen City's black community and its police.

Nathaniel Jones, 41, died at a hospital shortly after being taken into custody Sunday outside a fast food restaurant. The 350-pound man was struck repeatedly with nightsticks in a confrontation captured by a video camera mounted on a police car.

The Citizen Complaint Authority, a watchdog panel born from the riots that followed the police shooting of an unarmed black man in 2001, is looking into the death.

The U.S. Justice Department also was studying the case. Justice Department spokesman Jorge Martinez said information was being gathered to determine if federal action was warranted.

Police on Tuesday released the security tapes from the White Castle restaurant where the incident took place.

Videotape from a police cruiser that was released earlier had shown cops' violent efforts to restrain the lunging suspect. The new video released Tuesday showed what happened before the police arrived and immediately after they came to the scene.

The video shows Jones inside the restaurant greeting employees, then beginning either a dance routine or a series of stretches. He then repeated this routine outside in the parking lot.

A female worker at the restaurant told police Jones fell down and she became concerned when his eyes appeared to roll to the back of his head. She called an ambulance, but then she herself began to hyperventilate.

Cincinnati Homicide Commander Kim Frey said the tape shows Jones allegedly screaming at the paramedics.

Police were called, but arrived with their lights off, which also meant the cruiser camera was off.

That is when the officers approached Jones, who appeared to continue dancing and then lunge at the officer, which appeared to be when the outburst took place.

Many have asked what went on during a minute, 37-second time frame, from when police arrived to when the cruiser camera was turned on because an officer believed Jones was becoming confrontational.

Whatever Jones was saying or however he was acting to those officers, one officer became so concerned that he appeared to go to his trunk for his beanbag or pepperball gun to subdue Jones before the confrontation began.

The first two officers to arrive, Baron Osterman and James Pike, were shown on the videotape striking Jones after he ignored orders, took a swing at an officer and put his arm around an officer's neck.

The officers knocked Jones to the ground and fell on him, and jabbed or struck him with nightsticks at least a dozen times. Police procedure is to avoid hitting a suspect on the head. They kept yelling "Put your hands behind your back!" as they struggled to handcuff him.

Additional police officers arrived. They rolled Jones onto his back and one officer was heard saying: "He's still got a pulse. I don't see him breathing."

Jones died within minutes after an ambulance took him to a hospital, Assistant Chief Richard Janke said.

All six officers who went to the scene — five whites and one black — were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

The cause of Jones' death was under investigation. Preliminary autopsy results showed he had an enlarged heart, and his blood contained cocaine and PCP, or "angel dust," both of which can cause erratic behavior, Hamilton County Coroner Carl Parrott said.

Police Chief Thomas Streicher said Tuesday that police appeared to follow procedure when attempting to subdue Jones, and "it's obvious one of the officers was assaulted" before the taped beating began,

While he stressed that the investigation was incomplete, "I think there's enough on the tape to have a preliminary judgment about what occurred," Streicher said on NBC: "It's obvious one of the officers was assaulted while he was trying to calm down Mr. Jones."

"I can't see anything that's outside this procedure at this point," he said.

Jones' death raised new allegations of police brutality, just as the city was starting to recover from the effects of the April 2001 riots and the boycott that followed.

The 2001 riots stemmed from the shooting of Timothy Thomas, 19, who was wanted on several misdemeanor charges and fled when police tried to arrest him. Officer Stephen Roach shot him in a dark alley and was later cleared at trial of criminal charges.

A federal investigation of the shooting, requested by the city, resulted in an agreement to tighten policies on use of force and improve handling of civilian complaints.

In February, a white officer chased and fatally shot a black man who had been seen running from a store that had been broken into. Police, prosecutors and the Citizen Complaint Authority concluded the shooting was justified because the man was beating the officer with his nightstick.

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