CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland Police are under fire, after they were accused of going too soft on officers who were accused of serious policy violations.
Cleveland police agreed to a consent decree to create major reform within the department after a federal investigation revealed problems within the department nearly five years ago.
This afternoon, the team overseeing police reform discussed their concerns with a federal judge.
In a time where people are constantly scrutinizing and questioning the actions of police, the latest report states that the city’s former safety director generally failed to discipline officers for “integrity-related” offenses.
As just one example, a police officer’s lie led Johnathan Luton to spend eight unnecessary months in jail.
Yet records show Officer Steven Fedorko remained on the Cleveland Police force.
In the report, they say Officer Fedorko made false statements, accusing Luton of injuring him during an arrest.
Court documents say Luton won $175,000 in a lawsuit after the charges were dismissed.
Police Chief Calvin Williams recommended that the city fire Officer Fedorko for his misconduct in the case.
Instead, then Safety Director Michael McGrath went with a 30-day suspension, with no explanation of why.
The monitoring team wrote that it led them to “question whether, when it comes to accountability, anything of significance has changed since the Department of Justice’s 2014 investigation of CDP.”
The monitoring team found that in 37 percent of cases it reviewed, officer punishment did not match required discipline for the offenses.
The team was very critical of McGrath, saying that in another 32 percent of cases, he elected to use discretion to give lesser punishment and to impose suspensions in lieu of termination.
The monitoring team says his actions resulted in “a pattern of reduced discipline.”
And, in direct violation of the consent decree, many discipline decisions were determined without apparent justification or explanation.
The federal oversight team argued Tuesday in court that the department needs to fire liars because it’s hard to put a lying cop on the stand. They don’t have much credibility.
In another case reviewed, the report shows an off duty officer assaulted someone at a bar in 2016. He allegedly recognized the person as a protester from the Republican National Convention.
During an internal investigation, the Cleveland Monitoring team says the officer lied, claiming self defense, stating he did not know the victim.
He could have been fired for that. However, McGrath chose to suspend him instead.
The monitoring team says McGrath violated the consent decree by again not providing an explanation for that decision.
In 2018, the monitoring team says it found an incident involving a “gross neglect of duty” that called for a higher penalty than the director doled out.
An internal review found that a Sergeant attempted to cover up an OVI involving an off-duty officer.
That officer was found slumped in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, with his CPD issued service weapon and his police uniform in his vehicle.
Yet, the sergeant who found the intoxicated officer reported the incident as a medical emergency.
McGrath again decided to suspend the sergeant instead of terminating him, but he did not explain why.