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Police: Man Reached For Gun, Officers Responded Appropriately

Cincinnati Police

Cincinnati's mayor and police chief say they believe the fatal shooting of a man in Cheviot Wednesday was justified. 

Paul Gaston, 37, was reportedly waving a gun around before crashing a truck on Harrison Avenue.

Around 4:42 p.m. Wednesday, a woman called 911 to report a man with a gun in the 2800 block of Dirheim Avenue in Westwood.  A few minutes later, several people reported a man with a gun crashed a vehicle at Harrison and Verdin in Cheviot, and walked away.

Cincinnati officers, responding to the initial call in Westwood near the Cheviot border, found Gaston in the 3300 block of Harrison and ordered him to the ground.  Several officers were attempting to take him into custody when they say he reached for a gun.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac says the confrontation was caught on cell phone video by an eyewitness.

“As you can see, as he initially starts to go to the ground he raises up with his right hand reaching to his waistband. You can see the reaction of the officers. They fire multiple rounds, striking the individual.”

The video shows Gaston on his knees with his hands behind his head.  Three officers stand before him with weapons drawn.  Isaac says they were ordering Gaston to lie on the ground when he reached for his gun.  Officers fired a total of nine times. It’s not clear how many times Gaston was hit.

Isaac says the handgun in Gaston's waistband was actually a realistic-looking pellet gun. 

On Jan. 12, District 3 officers investigating two robberies in Price Hill shot and killed Robert Tenbrink after he pulled out a BB pistol when officers tried to apprehend him.

Mayor John Cranley says “I just want there to be a clear, consistent message that when our officers are faced with a situation where their lives are in danger and someone is not listening to their commands, and reaching for a gun, that their lethal action is justified although unfortunate.”

Isaac would not speculate on Gaston’s motive. “Based on what we’ve been able to determine, our officers responded appropriately and according to their training.”

The officers involved in this shooting are on administrative leave during the investigation.  They have been identified as Officer Eric Kohler, Specialist Scott McManus, and Officer Zacharay Sterbling.