CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A mother is suing Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams over the death of her son.
A judge just dismissed part of the lawsuit, where Jackson and Williams were being sued in their roles as public officials.
According to court records, six city attorneys are still assigned to represent the city leaders, even though they’re now facing the allegations in their personal capacities, instead of their official ones.
The lawsuit alleges that Jackson and Williams used their positions of power to intervene in criminal cases involving Jackson’s grandson.
The lawsuit claims that ultimately led to the August murder of Antonio Parra.
Law professor Andrew Pollis at Case Western Reserve University explained Tuesday, that the purpose of a suit against a public official in a public capacity is to get them to change their actions.
In this case, Parra’s mother is suing the mayor and chief in their personal capacities, because she’s looking for compensation for her son’s death.
Pollis says municipalities defend their employees, because if they didn’t, it would be hard to get people to work as a public servant.
“Even though there might be an element of distastefulness to it... that’s just we expect our cities and counties to do for people that work for them," Pollis said.
Pollis says while the allegations in the suit are concerning, at this point, they haven’t been proven.
If they are, the city does have the option to pull its resources.
“Theoretically there might be a time when the city might part ways with the mayor and say, ‘Look, given what we’ve learned in the evidence, this is really outside the bounds of your normal job functions, and so we’re going to decide not to represent you,’” Pollis said.
But Pollis thinks that’s unlikely, after watching other public officials go through similar cases.
“The city will continue to stand by its employees, unless there’s a reason for them not to, and just because somebody has filed a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily give them that reason,” he said.
Pollis says unless there is a reason, if the case ends with a liability or a settlement, it will likely be paid with taxpayer money.
19 News reached out to the Mayor’s Office, asking why they are continuing to represent the mayor and chief. A spokesperson said they had no comment.
To be clear, the police chief, nor the mayor nor the mayor’s grandson have been criminally charged in connection with Parra’s murder.