A Springfield, Ohio man wounded in a shooting called 911 for help, but was run over by a police officer as he lay bleeding in the street late Sunday night.
Eric Cole, 42, was flown from the scene to a hospital where he died after midnight Monday, according to police. The Ohio State Patrol is investigating the incident, and Cole’s cause of death is pending results of an autopsy
“This was an accident,” Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf said during a /news conference Wednesday, flanked by city leaders. “Doesn’t mean it’s OK, but it is an accident.”
Officer Amanda Rosalas, who has been with the department for two years, was driving to an address near a reported shooting around 11:20 p.m., Graf said. Several area residents had called the department about an apparent dispute, with men brandishing guns, which soon led to the shooting.
One of those calls came from Cole, who had been shot in the left arm.
“He had in fact called and said he was shot,” Graf said. “Obviously, he was very scared, he thought he was dying.”
As officers were racing to the scene, “there was some confusion” as to the correct address, Graf said. Trying to hone in on the right location, Rosalas focused on the addresses of the homes as she drove, and did not see Cole in the roadway.
Rosalas and fellow officers immediately stopped to render aid, Graf said.
She has been placed on administrative leave and an Internal Affairs investigation has been launched.
The news conference turned heated when members of Cole’s family began peppering Graf with questions, including if Rosalas was tested for alcohol or drugs in her system.
Graf said that she had not been, because there was no indication she was under the influence.
A woman who identified herself as Cole’s sister isn’t convinced.
“Excuse my language but there is no way in hell she did not see him ... my brother made a 911 call, he was on the phone with dispatch saying he’s in the middle of the street,” she said. “Y’all see it as an accident. I don’t. I watched the video.”
Dash cam video from that night doesn’t tell the whole story, Graf said.
“I would remind everyone that a camera helps us immensely … but that camera focuses where it’s pointed. It’s not an indicator of what the officer is seeing, or where they’re looking,” he said.
Graf asked the community for patience as the investigation continues, and promised transparency from himself and his officers.