Monday, January 28, 2008


A Cincinnati police officer was promoted last Thursday, nearly eight years after he lost his job on the force due to his involvement in an arrest that ended with a suspect’s death.

It can come as little surprise that not everyone is thrilled with the promotion of Patrick Caton (pictured here) to Sargent. The local chapter of the NAACP is calling for a protest....of sorts.

They shouldn't be alone in that call.

And, if you ask me, the protest should be a bit more militant then attending a city council meeting.

Back in November of 2000, Caton and his partner arrested Roger Owensby Jr., who died in the back of a squad car following a struggle with the officers.

A coroner ruled that Owensby died of asphyxiation, either from police piling on top of him during the arrest or from their attempts to restrain him. His death certificate listed the death as a homicide.

Black leaders and community activists took to the streets, angry over the killing of the unarmed Black man. A jury acquitted Caton of assault, but the department fired him anyway, citing excessive use of force during Owensby’s arrest. Caton appealed the firing and won. The Ohio Supreme Court did not overturn a ruling by an arbiter that the officer’s firing was too harsh and ordered a five-day suspension instead.

Not only was Caton reinstated, but he was awarded $200,000 in back pay.

Owensby’s family sued and won $6.5 million from the city.

Officer Caton also is alleged to have used a racial slur while responding to another officer's call for help in 2002. The slur was captured on tape by the cruiser's in-car video camera, police officials said. Caton admitted he used the epithet but blamed it on his frustration with gridlocked traffic. Caton told department officials that he did not usually use the slur.

Just sometimes?

After Caton's racist slur (that he doesn't usually use") was revealed the Rev. Damon Lynch III, president of the Cincinnati Black United Front, said the incident proved what many African-Americans had suspected about Officer Caton all along.

“It just shows the racist that he is,” said the Rev. Mr. Lynch. “Clearly the Cincinnati Police Department needs to root out people like Caton who hold these views toward African-Americans.”

Apparently the Cincinnati police department doesn't really care about racism on their force as they are proving once again with the promotion of this guy.

Did I mention that the now Sargent Caton was previously reprimanded for failing to make a report and for being in possession of a gun while driving under the influence and while off-duty?

Ever wonder why citizens living in African-American and working class neighborhoods are not so enamoured with the police department? If you are an OD reader you probably would answer that question, "no."

But if you did wonder, the case of Officer/Sargent Caton is a darn good reason to think the police are not your friend.

But maybe you say the guy might have changed, learned from his "errors."

Au contraire!

Although they haven’t been partners since shortly after Roger Owensby Jr. was killed in their custody, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported at his promotion ceremony Caton thanked Robert “Blaine” Jorg, for helping Caton be promoted to a Cincinnati police sergeant.

He thanked Jorg – who sat in the audience – for “all of the difficult times we served together."

It's difficult when people get mad at you for killing someone.

“I generally don’t get into trouble until I open my mouth,” Caton told the audience during his remarks at his promotion.

Roger Owensby Sr., father of the dead man, wasn’t amused by Caton’s comments.

“That’s very comical, very comical,” Owensby said from his North Carolina home. He added, “He should not be on the police force. He should be out sweeping the street somewhere. I guess sooner or later he’ll be the police chief, huh?”

Caton’s extra stripe and responsibilities didn’t impress Owensby.

“He’s been arrogant, snobbish as if my son was beneath him. My son is still dead,” Owensby said of Caton.

Most of the officers involved in the incident that resulted in his son’s death, Owensby said, eventually spoke to the Owensby family or lawyers about the death. “All of the officers have apologized but one – Caton,” Owensby said.

But, hey, he must be a fine fellow or why else would he have been let back on the force and promoted.

The local chapter of the NAACP called the promotion of Patrick Caton "completely disrespectful and outrageous" to the African-American community.

It should be an outrage to all of the Cincinnati community.

It certainly is an outrage to me.

The following is from

NAACP To Protest Police Promotion

The president Cincinnati branch of the NAACP, Christopher Smitherman, is rallying supporters to go to City Council on Wednesday to express outrage about the police department's promotion of Patrick Caton to sergeant. Caton, with 17 others, was promoted in a ceremony Jan. 17 - four days before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Caton was charged with assault in the 2000 death of Roger Owensby Jr. , but acquitted. He and another officer, Blaine Jorg, arrested Owensby in the parking lot of a Roselawn convenience store. Minutes later, Owensby was unresponsive in the back seat of a patrol car. Caton was fired, but rehired after union arbitration.

The death prompted a lawsuit by Owensby's family, which ended with the city of Cincinnati agreeing to pay the largest settlement in city history - $6.5 million.

Here's what Smitherman's e-mail this afternoon says:

"Dear Membership and Community,

On Wednesday, January 30, 2008 please show up to City Hall regarding Officer Caton's recent promotion to Sergeant. Please get to City Hall located at 801 Plum Street by 1:00 PM so that you may fill out a speakers card and speak to the mayor, the council and the city manager about our outrage regarding the decision to promote Caton on the Martin Luther King holiday. This is the officer who murdered Roger Owensby Jr. You have 2 minutes to speak and you must turn in your card by 1:15 PM in order to do so. The other role you can play is just be present. It is unfortunate but Caton's promotion has made national news. We continue to embarrass the region and the city with these types of barbaric decisions.

See you on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 1:00 PM at City Hall."

Caton, 41, became an officer in 1997.

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