Department of Justice releases unfavorable review of CPD

DOJ releases results of CPD investigation on use of excessive force

Attorney General Eric Holder, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Vanita Gupta, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven Dettelbach and

held a news conference Thursday regarding the findings of the Department of Justice's pattern and practice investigation into the Cleveland Division of Police's use of force. During the news conference it was revealed that the Department of Justice and the Cleveland Police Dept. have come to an agreement about how to address recent incidents involving CPD.

The details of that agreement will be worked out in the coming months but it will include a requirement for an independent monitor who will oversee and ensure necessary reforms.

Listed below are a few specific cases cited:

“January 2011, a police helicopter video emerged showing that, earlier that month, officers used excessive force against an unarmed man who had led police on a chase. The force, which included kicks to his head, was used after the man had surrendered to officers and was handcuffed and prone on the ground. None of the officers involved had written a report as to either using or witnessing any force at all, and no officers were appropriately disciplined for failing to report the use of force.”

“On November 29, 2012, over 100 Cleveland police officers engaged in a high speed chase, in violation of CDP policies, and fatally shot two unarmed civilians. CDP officers ultimately fired 137 shots at the car, killing both its occupants.”

“An incident from 2013 in which a sergeant shot at a victim as he ran from a house where he was being held against his will.”

“Justice Department found that the Cleveland police officers engage in a pattern or practice of unreasonable and in some cases unnecessary force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The investigation was launched in March, 2013 following a number of high profile use of force incidents and requests from the community and local government to investigate the PD.”

from the Department of Justice detailing its investigation into the Cleveland PD. Here are some key findings from the report:

In Cleveland DoJ found the unreasonable practices included:

  • The unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force, including shootings and head strikes with impact weapons
  • The unnecessary, excessive or retaliatory use of less lethal force including Tasers, chemical spray and fists
  • Excessive force against persons who are mentally ill or in crisis, including in cases where the officers were called exclusively for a welfare check
  • The employment of poor and dangerous tactics that place officers in situations where avoidable force becomes inevitable

The investigation found that division fails to:

  • Adequately review and investigate officers' uses of force
  • Fully and objectively investigate all allegations of misconduct
  • Identify and respond to patterns of at-risk behavior
  • Provide its officers with the support, training, supervision, and equipment needed to allow them to do their jobs safely and effectively
  • Adopt and enforce appropriate policies
  • Implement effective community policing strategies.

Holder said he believes every issue they uncovered can be corrected and the Feds might be willing to help pay for it.

"I also think the people of Cleveland should have a sense of hope that those problems, now having to be identified with the commitment of the political leadership, the Chief, that these problems can be rectified and the Force can be made better," said Holder.

Cleveland mayor, Frank Jackson agreed, saying, "There are problems in the division of the Cleveland Police and this review has demonstrated some of those problems."

"We welcomed the review and appreciate the thoroughness of that review and the document that you given to us and look forward to working with you and the community as we move forward," said Mayor Jackson.

The Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said although the news was not easy to hear he added, "The men and women of the division stand committed to having a better police department. We take on this challenge. We will work to make this police department better."

After the conference, 19 Action News Investigator Scott Taylor asked Jackson if he regretted promoting former Police Chief Michael McGrath to City Safety Director, now knowing much of the Police abuse happened under the Mayor's administration and McGrath's watch.

"I explain it that he was the right person at the time and I believe he is now and I do not regret it," Jackson replied.

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