Sgt. Andre Smith with Cincinnati Police Department(Photo: Fox19)CONNECT>TWEET>LINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE
A veteran member of the Cincinnati Police Department was recently arrested and is accused of refusing to identify himself to a fellow officer during a traffic crash investigation in Mt. Airy.
Sgt. Andre Smith, 53, was arrested Nov. 15 by Specialist Kevin Newman on a charge of failure to disclose personal information at the scene of the crash in the 2300 block of West North Bend Road, court records show.
He refused to give his name and date of birth to Newman “during investigation when a crime was suspected of being committed,” Newman wrote in a criminal complaint.
Smith caused the crash that sent another motorist to a hospital for failing to control his vehicle and was cited, records show.
His 2014 Kia crossed the double yellow line, traveled into an oncoming Chevrolet Malibu’s lane, hit that car and then continued a short ways down the road, where it struck a pole, according to a copy of the crash report on the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s website.
The other driver, George Daniels, 57, was taken to Mercy West Hospital with serious injuries, the report states.
Smith suffered no apparent injury, according to the report.
Smith was booked into the Hamilton County jail on the misdemeanor charge at 9:42 p.m. and released a few hours later, at 2:22 a.m. Nov. 16 after his $50 bail was posted, jail officials said Friday.
He also was cited for failure to maintain reasonable control of a motor vehicle, court records show.
Smith has pleaded not guilty and returns to Hamilton County Municipal Court Jan. 14 before Judge William Mallory.
A police spokesman said he had no information on this but but would look into it and get back to us.
Smith’s lawyer said he remains on duty working third shift in District 2 and has not had his police powers suspended, though he is now restricted from working off-duty details.
Smith was off-duty and in his personal vehicle driving home when he was involved in an auto accident, according to his lawyer, Perry Davis.
“The airbag deployed, and he hit his head. He probably suffered a concussion,” Davis said. “He did not have the opportunity to go to the hospital because he was arrested. He doesn’t even remember talking to the officer. He doesn’t remember anything about it."
Davis said he has heard there is videotape of the scene where Smith asks to talk to a police supervisor but Newman did not allow that. Davis said he is seeking a copy of the video from the city prosecutor’s office.
“It is my understanding (Newman) lied and said he was the supervisor,” Davis said. “He never asked ‘Are you OK? Did you get hurt?’ The people at the scene helped him out of the vehicle. The airbag deployed and hit him in the face. He should have been taken to the hospital.”
Smith doesn’t dispute the accident and has insurance to cover it, his lawyer said.
“I’ve been practicing law 31 years and I’ve never seen someone get arrested under these circumstances,” Davis said. “This was a regular car accident and then you say he didn’t identify himself but you have his information. It makes no sense. It makes absolutely no sense. I am just curious when did they start arresting people for a car crash when they have insurance."
Asked to elaborate on what information he was referring to, Davis said police ran Smith’s license plates and learned his identity and other information that way.
Davis conceded he was not sure if Newman knew Davis was a fellow officer. He also said he was not sure if Smith notified his police supervisor about his arrest immediately following his release from jail.
“He’s an outstanding police officer. This is just unbelievable that he would get in the middle of this situation when he didn’t do anything.”
Sgt. Dan Hils, president of the union that represents Cincinnati police, said he was not available when we reached him for comment.
Smith has been a Cincinnati police officer since November 1987 and is the fourth senior police sergeant in the department, according to his personnel file.
He has been assigned to District 2 since 2015. He also has worked in Districts 4, 3 and 5 in addition to the Impound Unit and Telephone Crime Reporting Unit, which he supervised.
He was promoted to sergeant in July 1994.
He met standards on his most recent job performance evaluation available Friday and was widely praised by supervisors.
"Sergeant Smith completes his assigned duties in a timely manner," wrote Lt. Michael Fern. "He makes sound decisions related to Departmental issues. He works well with his fellow peers. Sergeant Smith is always willing to lend a helping hand to others when needed. I appreciate all he does and brings to the First Relief in District Two – Thanks Andre."
The commander of District 2 at the time of the evaluation agreed.
"Andre makes the difficult easy and inspires loyalty from his officers," wrote Captain Jim Gramke. "Sgt. Smith is always willing to help and cares about his community. He has been a public servant for almost thirty years and the city is a better place because of what Sgt. Smith brings to work everyday."
He also has received several commendations in his personnel file.
"Thank you for taking the kids to the Reds game," then-Mayor Charlie Luken wrote in May 2002.
“Commended for your investigative skills, exceptional courage and dedication to duty in the very successful ‘drug sweep’ in Evanston and Madisonville,” then-Assistant Police Chief Richard Janke wrote in February 2002.
Smith also has made headlines several times.
Most recently, Cincinnati police officials examined a 2016 case where he fired a gunshot at a fleeing suspect in Mt. Lookout after FOX19 NOW requested all the records on it.
We looked into the case because we heard it was stalled without apparent resolution within the administrative review process.
The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office ruled the shooting justified four months after it happened and said Smith did not violate any laws.
Smith told investigators at the time he thought the motorist he was chasing, first in a vehicle and then on foot - when the shot was fired - had a weapon, police records show.
The suspect was not struck by the bullet, and no weapon was found.
Police can use deadly force when they reasonably believe their lives or other lives are in danger, not whether the shooting victim actually posed a threat, the Supreme Court has determined.
But the internal police review determines if Smith’s actions were in line with police policies and procedures. If not, the incident is referred for discipline and/or training.
And it was during this administrative review that police officials disagreed whether Smith violated the department’s use of force and other policies.
He received a written reprimand in March 2016 for not activating his digital video recorder inside his police car during the traffic portion of the pursuit and for pursuing a vehicle wanted for traffic offenses only.
Vehicle pursuits initiated for traffic offenses only are not permitted, his reprimand states.
A peer review panel called Firearms Discharge Board, which was adopted by CPD as part of the historic 2002 Collaborative Agreement that is now undergoing an update, or “refresh,” examined the use of force and determined Smith violated CPD policy.
They recommended it be referred to internal investigators for another review and possible discipline and training, a copy of their final report shows.
However, top police officials rejected the recommendation over the summer.
That rare circumstance occurred just months before the leader of the union that represents Cincinnati police asked the city’s top administrator to look into what he called “mismanagement” of the police department’s internal review and discipline process on use of force cases.
A police watchdog agency for the city, Cincinnati Citizen Complaint Authority, also investigates incidents and issue findings.
They agreed in August that Smith violated procedure by not activating the lights and siren on his police vehicle during the pursuit, to ensure video and audio recording equipment is activated.
They exonerated him for making the vehicle stop: "A preponderance of the evidence shows alleged conduct did occur, but did not violate CPD policies, procedures or training."
But they felt there was not enough evidence to reach a conclusion on his use of force.
In 2012, Smith also was caught intoxicated on duty when he failed an unscheduled breathalyzer test, according to his personnel file.
When he arrived to take the test, he was driving his marked cruiser, police said at the time.
No criminal charges were filed, police explained then, because there was not probable cause to give the test and it was not voluntary.
Enquirer media partner Fox19 provided this report.