Cleveland Officer Wounded, Partner Shoots Assailant To Death

By JOE MILICIA, Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - A man escorted by police to a downtown bus stop tackled an officer and shot him with his service revolver. The officer's partner then shot and killed the gunman in a square crowded with fans leaving sporting events, Police Chief Edward Lohn said Friday.

Officer Michael Schmitt, 36, was shot in the chin at Public Square about 9:30 p.m. Thursday. He was in critical but stable condition Friday morning at MetroHealth Medical Center with bullet fragments in his brain.

"We're very hopeful he'll pull through," Lohn said.

Schmitt and his partner, Officer Donald Finau, were escorting the man to the bus stop after he caused a disturbance at a west side company while trying to apply for a job after hours, Lohn said. The company didn't wish to press charges, and the officers were trying to help him.

The man tackled Schmitt after leaving the cruiser, grabbed Schmitt's service revolver as the two fell to the ground and fired, Lohn said.

Finau, 33, returned fire, killing the suspect, whose name has not been released. He was shot several times and pronounced dead at the scene.

Police Cmdr. Ed Tomba said Schmitt was able to walk into the hospital's emergency room and even talk to people there.

Schmitt, 36, has been a police officer for almost two years.

Public Square at the time was crowded with people coming from a Cleveland Indians game and a Cleveland Browns practice, Police Sgt. Donna Bell said.

Lohn said 19 people witnessed the shooting.

Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Bob Beck said the officers tried to help the man and he turned on them.

"Officer Finau did an outstanding job defending himself and his partner," Beck said Friday.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)