EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A local councilwoman says police from other jurisdictions should not be able to chase suspects into her city.
Now, 19 News is investigating if her concerns are backed by Ohio law.
East Cleveland Councilwoman Juania Gowdy says Cleveland Police should not have chased carjacking suspects into East Cleveland in December, before the suspects hit and killed 13-year-old Tamia Chapman.
Monday, she sent a letter to Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, saying Cleveland officers didn’t have permission from East Cleveland to cross into their city.
However, they didn’t need it. As we investigated, we found that, according to state law, officers are allowed to pursue across city lines in Ohio, if the chase began in the officer’s jurisdiction, and the person is wanted for a serious crime.
Gowdy is also upset that Cleveland officers were allowed to control the accident scene in East Cleveland after Tamia’s death. She’s calling for Cleveland Police to turn over the evidence they collected that night.
In the weeks after the chase, Cleveland Police told 19 News that while an independent agency is handling this crash investigation, CPD is doing its own internal review to determine whether pursuit policies were followed.
Cleveland Police say their investigation is still not complete.
We reached out to see if the Cleveland police chief had any comment about the councilwoman's accusations.
A spokesperson said he could not comment on the pending investigation.
Late in the afternoon, we spoke to East Cleveland’s Chief of Police. Scott Gardner says the law does allow officers to chase outside their jurisdiction and says he doesn’t have a problem with that.
He, however, would like to see cities put uniform policies in place to avoid all of this confusion.
You can read the councilwoman’s full letter to Kevin Kelley here:
As a newly-elected member of East Cleveland city council I have searched our municipal records and questioned officials about the joint resolutions our two municipal corporations have enacted to enter agreements that authorize the official interactions between our governments and employees. I'm aware only of the 2007 agreement East Cleveland city council authorized former Mayor Eric J. Brewer to sign with Mayor Frank Jackson on behalf of Cleveland.
What I have not found on East Cleveland's side of the legislative table are agreements connected to requests for legislation discussed in public meetings that come with notices, agendas, minutes and recordings of the discussion to create official interactions between our public safety forces under Ohio law. No public requests for mutual aid agreements. No requests for authorization to cross East Cleveland's borders for warrantless pursuits as required by R.C. 2935.03.
"“If a sheriff, deputy sheriff, marshal, deputy marshal, municipal police officer, member of a police force employed by a metropolitan housing authority under division (D) of section 3735.31 of the Revised Code, member of a police force employed by a regional transit authority under division (Y) of section 306.35 of the Revised Code, special police officer employed by a port authority under section 4582.04 or 4582.28 of the Revised Code, special police officer employed by a municipal corporation at a municipal airport or other municipal air navigation facility described in division (A) of this section, township constable, police officer of a township or joint police district, state university law enforcement officer appointed under section 3345.04 of the Revised Code, peace officer of the department of natural resources, individual designated to perform law enforcement duties under section 511.232, 1545.13, or 6101.75 of the Revised Code, the house sergeant at arms if the house sergeant at arms has arrest authority pursuant to division (E)(1) of section 101.311 of the Revised Code, or an assistant house sergeant at arms is authorized by division (A) or (B) of this section to arrest and detain, within the limits of the political subdivision, metropolitan housing authority housing project, regional transit authority facilities or those areas of a municipal corporation that have been agreed to by a regional transit authority and a municipal corporation located within its territorial jurisdiction …
Tamia Chapman is the latest East Cleveland resident to die as the result of a warrantless pursuit that originated in Cleveland. Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams died at the hands of Cleveland law enforcement officers who entered this municipal corporation's border 100 strong. They created fear and panic in East Cleveland residents and threatened the stability and image of this city.
Two American citizens were slaughtered in the city I was elected to serve by Cleveland law enforcement officers far outside their jurisdiction in a hail of 137 bullets behind our middle school; and near the McGregor Nursing home we support for our frail elderly. A review of records generated by the office of Ohio's Attorney General identified numerous violations of unprosecuted laws committed by law enforcement officers on both sides. East Cleveland's law enforcement officers failed to review the lawfulness of each border incursion and to make the appropriate arrests when laws were violated.
I am strongly concerned about Ohio Attorney General records showing a collusive interaction between CPPA president Jeffrey Folmer and East Cleveland FOP president Scott Gardner at the Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams death site in our city. Folmer had no authority to prevent East Cleveland police officers from obtaining crime scene statements in this municipal corporation. There is no agreement between the city of East Cleveland and Cleveland that gives its "labor union officials" authority inside this municipal corporation. Our official should have arrested Folmer for his obstruction.,
I have further learned that Cleveland's police chiefs, Calvin Williams and Michael McGrath, have on their own and without legislative authority authorized police for CMHA, GCRTA, University Circle, Case Western Reserve, Cleveland State, Cleveland Clinic and University Hospital police leave their "property only" jurisdiction to enforce laws on Cleveland's streets. A search of Cleveland's City Record has failed to provide me with evidence of resolutions authorizing the mayor to enter agreements with the aforementioned institutions. I found none on our side where a former mayor requested or council approved such mutual operating agreements.
Cleveland Clinic police in 2006 left their property and engaged in a warrantless pursuit on your municipal corporation's streets that led into ours. A man was killed at the GCRTA bus stop at Euclid and Eddy Road when the stolen car he drove crashed into a fire hydrant. In 2005 Cleveland police crossed East Cleveland's borders on a warrantless pursuit and caused the death of Rev. Omra Beynum, 74.
Every municipal corporation in Ohio is sovereign. Binding agreements between municipal corporations exist when they're authorized by law, approved and signed by the authorized elected officials in public meetings and after discussion with each city's residents. Employees subordinate to elected officials have no authority to enter agreements with each other in lieu of laws that bestow these rights on the elected officials.
I've had the opportunity to review a civil claim against East Cleveland's police department that involved Cleveland's 6th District law enforcement officers and detectives at the time. Todd Carroscia engaged in a warrantless pursuit outside East Cleveland's borders into Cleveland across Woodworth Avenue and struck Charles Hunt and a passenger. His recklessness seriously wounded them.
Our Director of Law at the time, the late Almeta Johnson, applied her "Specific Performance" duty pursuant to R.C. 737.57 and advised the Mayor, our chief law enforcement officer, to terminate Carroscia. Deputy Director Ronald Riley performed the duty of filing a cross-claim against Carroscia for violating R.C. 2935.03 and the mayor's instructions to East Cleveland police officers not to cross borders.
Criminal charges were also being prepared against Carroscia before an election brought a change in management but not a change in laws. Regardless of the former mayor's dereliction to R.C. 2935.03, our former mayor was enforcing it. East Cleveland police were instructed by this city's chief law enforcement officer to arrest police entering the municipal corporation in violation of R.C. 2935.03.
Hunt won his $2.2 million claim against East Cleveland's taxpayers. Depositions from the case identify Cleveland police officers operating to criminally-charge Hunt as this city was pursuing criminal charges against Carroscia. Our criminal investigation appears to have been obstructed by our former chief of police who conspired with Cleveland police to protect Carroscia.
Hunt's attorney, Robert DiCillo, said his client was forced to fight the malicious and civil rights violating charges Cleveland offcials conspired with our officials to obstruct our chief law enforcement officers from enforcing R.C. 2935.03 in the manner East Cleveland residents said they wanted enforced by not seeking or entering agreements with any municipal corporation to let its law enforcement officers enter the city on a warrantless pursuit. East Cleveland's municpal police department pursuant to R.C. 737.11 is the only authorized enforcer of all federal, state and local criminal laws with the municipal corporation based on the lack of agreements this city's officials have entered with another under the general laws of this state.
As such, I have no choice but to see the acts Cleveland officials have and are conspiring to engage in as as federal color of law conspiracies against the civil rights of the inhabitants of the municipal corporation of East Cleveland; most notably in their connection to acts against individuals like Rev. Omra Beynum ,Charles Hunt, Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Tamia Chapman and others. The others include women like Barbara Garner of Noble Road.
During my candidacy I learned that the City of Cleveland entered an agreement with the Ohio EPA (OEPA) to enforce federal environmental laws. This enforcement authority has existed for at least five decades as result of Congress' enactment of the 1974 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Monitoring all forms of environmental polluters is a duty imposed on the city of Cleveland with its OEPA agreement.
In May 2014 Christine Beynum and George Michael Riley conspired with former Mayor Gary Norton, Thomas Wheeler and Brandon King to enact legislation that required 1705 Noble Road to be prepared for development. Instead Beynon and Riley for nearly three years operated a deadly construction and demolition debris landfill behind Mrs. Garner's home. She died of lung cancer. A non-smoker. State Senator Kenny Yuko mentioned her name to Craig Butler when he joined with our former mayor to get the place closed.
Cleveland officials inspected the facility 26 times until it grew beyond 5 stories. Not one time did they enforce the same law OEPA director Craig Butler used to close it. The facility should not have been allowed to open. Inspecting an illegal facility Cleveland officials had the duty to stop from growing is yet another act of negligence that harms inhabitants of East Cleveland like Harry Drummond and his family; who lived doors away from Mrs. Garner. Former Watson, Rice accountant Willie Morrow lives across the street from the dump site. Cancer has him just like it had the late Mrs. Garner.
Agreements we're supposed have to protect our citizens from reckless high speed chases you don't. Agreements you do have that you're supposed to enforce to protect people from death by deadly toxins you don't. Cleveland's failure to abide by this state and nation's general laws is a threat to the inhabitants of East Cleveland.
Cleveland police have a history of racism against Black citizens. If we wanted an official relationship with the city's police department East Cleveland city councils would have instructed our mayors to enter them. We have clearly affirmed by what appears to be a lack of agreements that no relationship is sought despite the obstructive acts of employees.
I have asked the U.S. Attorney and FBI in writing to remove 24 individuals impersonating law enforcement officers from East Cleveland's employment as usurpers of public offices. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John Russo is managing a criminal complaint he's directed Prosecuting Attorney Michael O'Malley to file against them. We are currently reviewing oaths and documents connected to the acts and employment of these individuals as I have learned they submitted fraudulent OPOTA training credentials to the Ohio Attorney General.
If Cleveland police believe they are operating lawfully when they pursue without warrant into East Cleveland based on some assumed "law enforcement partnership" with employees of the municpal corporation, the lack of evidence of agreement on this side shows they are in grave and serious error.
Please consider this letter notice but also a request for any and all agreements Cleveland officials believe they have entered with the municipal corporation of East Cleveland.