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Lawyers for man killed by off-duty Cleveland policeman say new evidence reveals inconsistencies with officer’s story

Desmond Franklin was shot while driving, after the officer claimed Franklin was threatening to shoot first
Updated: May. 13, 2020 at 7:51 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Attorneys representing the family of a man shot and killed by an off-duty Cleveland police officer say new surveillance video contradicts the officer’s story that he was being threatened.

Desmond Franklin, 22, was shot by off-duty officer Jose Garcia on April 9 as the two drove side-by-side on Pearl Road near Riverside Cemetery on the city’s West Side.

“This officer, who was off duty, decided to play God and take him away from us,” Emmanuel Franklin told 19 News.

The grieving father minced no words when discussing the case, and his frustration with investigators.

“I’d think you’d have something to tell this family. As the head of the family, I want to know,” he said.

Garcia claimed Franklin, who was driving with a 17-year-old male passenger, threatened to shoot the officer, who was not wearing his uniform and was not driving a police vehicle.

Cleveland Police released very little information after the incident, and it remains unclear if a gun was found in or around the car Franklin was driving.

One of Franklin’s attorneys, Stanley Jackson, said they have obtained and reviewed surveillance video from three vantage points.

“Our client didn’t pose a threat at all to Mr. Garcia,” Jackson said. “Our client is merely driving past the officer and the officer fires into the car several times.”

Jackson said the 911 call made by Garcia is inconsistent with the findings of their own investigation.

In that call, according to Jackson, Garcia said he believed he was being shot at and was possibly hit.

“We [found] out later from witnesses and [from] the video that our client did not pose a threat and that there are inconsistencies on if there were any gunshots [and] if our client brandished or used a gun. From the video, you can’t see any of that happen.”

Jackson added that results of the autopsy show Franklin was shot once in the right temple, suggesting he was shot while looking forward. Jackson said this shows he was not actively interacting with the shooter at the time the fatal shot was fired.

Garcia initially claimed he saw Franklin and the teen earlier and believed they were trying to steal items from a truck.

“Even assuming that is true, there was no burglary occurring at the time or anything occurring at the time that would justify taking somebody’s life,” said attorney Shean Williams, who also represents the Franklin family.

The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident, but Williams and Jackson said the Ohio Attorney General’s office should take over.

“The Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) can become involved in an investigation if requested by local law enforcement or prosecutor,” said Steven Irwin, a spokesperson for Attorney General Dave Yost. “To date, BCI has not been requested to investigate this matter.”

After the shooting occurred, Franklin crashed into the cemetery’s fence. Police said the passenger fled on foot but was later arrested. He was also shot, but his condition was described as stable soon after the shooting.

As of press time, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to our request for comment.

Officer Garcia was placed on leave pending the investigation.

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