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‘Life or death’ choice for Cincinnati police

Officer kills mentally ill man who fired first

– City police officers faced a “life or death” battle after a mentally ill man fired a shot and resisted violently before an officer fatally shot him, officials said Thursday.

Roger Ramundo, 32, struggled with officers who came to a Clifton bar and tried to talk with him after they received a report Wednesday of an armed man with mental health problems, police said.

Ramundo fired a wild shot with a handgun, not hitting anyone, as officers used stun guns three times to try to subdue him, police said. When he tried to raise his gun again, an officer fired two shots into his back, police said.

“Now it is to the point where this is a life-or-death situation,” said interim Police Chief Paul Humphries, explaining the decision to use lethal force.

Ramundo died soon after being taken to a hospital.

“I want to offer our sincere condolences to the Ramundo family,” Humphries said. “Yesterday was truly a tragedy.”

Police said Ramundo’s mother had called a mental health professional for help because he became belligerent, threatened her and wouldn’t take his medicine for bipolar disorder. The professional called police, urging them to find Ramundo and take him to a hospital for psychiatric care, while advising them he was armed.

Police said officers trained in mental health response found Ramundo on the bar’s outdoor rear patio. While a pair talked with him, others cleared people from the area. But Ramundo then became combative, police said, and pulled a handgun out of his waistband.

“We are devastated by the loss of our son Roger,” his family said in a statement.

One officer was treated after being struck with a stun-gun barb during the struggle.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory expressed condolences to the family and said the shooting will be thoroughly investigated. Police officials said officer Bryan Gabel, who fired the shots, was placed on paid administrative leave as is customary in police shooting cases.

“As we wait for more information about the incident, it is important to remember that, as always, there will be three separate investigations – the criminal investigation, internal affairs and the citizens complaint authority,” Mallory said.

“We will release more information about the incident as details are gathered.”

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