Cincinnati Police Department Being Investigated for Treatment of Jaywalking Black Man


A viral video showing a pedestrian arrest Feb. 6 in Over-the-Rhine has prompted the Cincinnati Police Department to begin internal and citizen complaint investigations. 

Charles Harrell, 29, shot video of himself walking on Elder Street. The video shows a Cincinnati officer, Baron Osterman, following him slowly on a bicycle. In the video Harrell, who is African-American, says he is being harassed by the white officer.

Midway through the video, the officer approaches Harrell and tells him to stop and put down his belongings – his phone and a cup of coffee – and tells Harrell that he crossed a street against a stop light. Harrell tells the officer he crossed with the light.

Harrell posted the video March 1 on Facebook. It had more than 150,000 views at 6:50 p.m. Friday.

“We take all citizen concerns and complaints seriously. As such, the incident is under investigation by both the Internal Investigations Unit of the Cincinnati Police Department and the Citizen Complaint Authority, which provides a neutral, independent review of the incident,” Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac said in a statement released Friday afternoon by the department. “We are committed to transparency and will provide further information once we have allowed both the criminal trial and the administrative investigations to run their course.”

Police said Harrell, who lists a Colerain Township address, has been contacted to complete a citizen complaint.

Osterman arrested Harrell. Harrell is charged with a pedestrian violation, possession of less than 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of marijuana and resisting arrest. The final charge was the result of Harrell’s refusal to stop reaching into his pockets, delaying the arrest, Osterman swore in a complaint.

The case is currently in Hamilton County Municipal Court before Judge Heather Russell.

Harrell did not respond to a phone message and a message sent to his Facebook account, which lists his name as Chris Harrell.

“This is what we have to go through in Cincinnati,” Harrell says in the video as Osterman follows him on his bicycle. “You can’t be a black man and enjoy your morning, because the police are going to harass you, Cincinnati, Ohio. … Walking down the street; the cop just asked me if I have a problem.”

At that point, Osterman approaches Harrell and said, “Sir, I saw you crossing at the light.”

Harrell then says, “Sir, you were scaring me, sir. I don’t know why were following me, anyway. You were following me all the way down the street.”

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Source: | Mark Curnutte,