‘This was an accident,’ Springfield chief says of officer who hit shooting victim with cruiser

The initial officer responding to a shooting on South Center Boulevard on Sunday night did not see the victim lying in the street when they hit him with a cruiser, Springfield Division Police Chief Lee Graf said today.

Officer Amanda Rosales was trying to read addresses on the houses as she was responding when she hit Eric Cole, 42, of Springfield.

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“This was an accident,” Graf said. “That doesn’t mean it’s OK. This was not an intentional act by the officer. I am sure of that.”

Rosales stopped immediately and began to render aid to Cole, he added.

CareFlight transported Cole to Miami Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office has not determined Cole’s cause of death at this time.

Rosales is on administrative leave and an internal investigation has begun, which is standard, Graf said.

She has been with the department for more than a year.

Shortly before the shooting, police received multiple reports of a disturbance and argument where guns were shown. A few minutes later, they received a report of shots fired.

“As part of those calls and those dispatch tapes, it was alleged that Eric was out there along with other people and there was some type of disturbance or quarrel,” Graf said.

As officers responded, the chief added, there was some confusion about where the shooting occurred before the address was confirmed.

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Police are continuing to investigate the shooting, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the pedestrian strike.

Members of the Springfield Police Division have met with Cole’s family. Graf said he felt it was important to talk with the family and prepare them before details were released to the public.

Mayor Warren Copeland and City Manager Bryan Heck, as well as Graf, all expressed their condolences to the family.

“This is a tragic, tragic event and we will treat it as such,” said Copeland. “This is a sad day for all of us.”

He added that the city is working to determine what can be done to prevent this from happening again.

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When asked about distracted driving, Graf said that officers do have accidents, but the department reminds officers to stay aware of their surroundings while behind the wheel and to try to avoid using their laptop and phones.

“Accidents do happen in policing. Again, I do not say that to downplay this. But we try to minimize that by reminding officers to be aware of their surroundings,” he said. “Obviously we’re going to look into this and, obviously, I don’t ever want this to happen again.”