Cleveland Police are investigating an officer-involved shooting on the west side that happened just after 4 a.m. Tuesday.
Police Chief Calvin Williams says officers stopped the driver of an Infiniti SUV for driving erratically with no lights and loud music. Officers say Justin Damato, 28, exited and was told to get back into the vehicle.
Ignoring the request, Chief Williams says Damato fled and officers chased on foot. The chief says at one point, Damato produced a handgun and one of the officers fired several rounds, striking him in his abdomen and hip. Damato's weapon was recovered at the scene.
No police officers were injured during the incident.
One of the two police officers was a former EMS paramedic, who knew advanced life support and immediately tended to the wounded suspect. It should be noted that this officer's level of training is far above what average officers undergo. They are trained on first aid for just one day while this officer had weeks of training. We are also told that the first aid kits that were supposed to be deployed in zone cars have not been distributed yet.
Damato was transported to MetroHealth Medical Center, where he was treated and reported in stable condition.
Investigators from the Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team responded to the scene. The officers involved in the shooting will be placed on three days of administrative leave, as per division protocol. Officers will be identified three days post incident.
The shooting took place at an intersection covered by a city surveillance camera, which could provide crucial evidence to investigators probing the incident.
Cleveland Police learned the vehicle was stolen during an aggravated robbery in the area of West 117th Street earlier Tuesday morning. They are working to locate the owner.
Damato has been arrested and faces aggravated robbery charges. He remains hospitalized in fair condition.
Puritas Avenue was closed in both directions from West 150th to West 143rd for several hours during the investigation. It reopened around 7:30 a.m.