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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 December, 2003, 22:32 GMT
Resignation calls in Cincinnati
Shot from police video
The scene was captured on police video
Community leaders in the US city of Cincinnati have called for the local police chief to resign over the death of a black man beaten by police.

In Sunday's incident, caught on police video, two officers are seen hitting Nathaniel Jones with truncheons.

A coroner said that though Mr Jones had health problems, the stress caused by the fight directly led to his death.

Whilst defending the officers' actions, the police have asked the Justice Department and FBI to review the case.

Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr told Cincinnati City Council that he had invited both bodies to examine the death, AP news agency reports.

He said his officers had been defending themselves and trying to "overcome resistance to arrest".

The underlying cause was the struggle... engaged in by an overweight man with a bad heart
Hamilton County Coroner Carl Parrott

Hamilton County Coroner Carl Parrott gave a homicide ruling, which is issued when someone dies at the hands of another person.

He added that the ruling should not be interpreted as implying inappropriate behaviour or the use of excessive force by police.

Resignation calls

On Thursday, Damon Lynch, head of the Cincinnati Black United Front, told the BBC that the case showed there must be "change at the top of the police force".

Nathaniel Jones
Police released details of Jones' prior convictions

"The community-police relations in Cincinnati have been strained for 30 years. The police officer, chief, needs to resign, retire or be fired," Mr Lynch said.

"Bring in a totally new administration and a new attitude of policing this city. When Los Angeles went through civil unrest... they got rid of the police chief."

He added that the same thing had happened in Miami and several other places.

Black church leaders in Cincinnati have called a protest rally on Sunday.

Police Chief Streicher and City Manager Valerie Lemmie appeared at a forum sponsored by the city's Human Relations Commission on Thursday.

An emotional audience of 300, some of them weeping, watched the video of the fateful incident before questioning the officials.

Mr Jones' scuffle with the police officers started when they were called to a fast-food restaurant after reports that a man was being disorderly.

The two officers were seen on the videotape hitting the man with clubs after he ignored orders to "stay back" and tried to punch one of the officers in the face.

The officers knocked the man to the ground and struck him several times until they managed to handcuff him.

The man was taken to hospital, where he was declared dead.

Coroner Parrott said Mr Jones, who weighed 157 kilograms (350 pounds), suffered from an enlarged heart, and that cocaine and other drugs were found in his bloodstream.

However, the coroner said the "underlying cause" of death was the struggle "engaged in by an overweight man with a bad heart".

Mr Jones' family and civil rights groups have called for an independent investigation.

The latest incident comes almost three years after the death of unarmed black teenager at the hands of a white officer sparked race riots in Cincinnati.


SEE ALSO:
US man dies in taped police fight
02 Dec 03  |  Americas
Cincinnati calm after stand-off
15 Apr 01  |  Americas


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