PRESS RELEASE, 9/2/2010

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters announces results of Ohio State Highway Patrol investigation into death of Joann Burton


Today, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters announced the results of the Ohio State Highway Patrol's investigation into the July 27th death of Joann Burton in Washington Park.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol, led by Sgt. Hamilton, conducted a thorough investigation into this incident including examination of the scene, interviews of witnesses at the scene, review of CPD Police Policy and Procedures, interview of Officer Marty Polk and alcohol and drug testing of Officer Marty Polk.

Ms. Burton was killed after being run over at approximately 11:30 a.m. by a vehicle driven by on-duty Cincinnati Police Park Officer Marty Polk. The slightly built 5'7" 104 lb Burton was sleeping in the park under a blanket. Witnesses at the scene described that it was impossible to see her under the blanket. Officer Polk drove his vehicle off of the paved roadway and ran over Ms. Burton. According to police protocol, it is often necessary for park officers to drive their vehicles off of the paved park roadways in order to fully surveil the park.

Although Ms. Burton was alert at the scene, she later died at the hospital. The Hamilton County Coroner ruled her death from blunt force trauma as "accidental."

Officer Polk was tested for possible alcohol and/or drug use and the results of those tests came back "negative" indicating that he was not impaired at the time of the accident.

After a review of all of the evidence, there is no basis to show any "reckless" conduct by the officer which would support possible felony charges under Ohio law. Any determination regarding possible "negligent" conduct would be made by the City of Cincinnati as they have chosen to prosecute their own misdemeanor cases.