Shaker Heights police officer placed on paid leave after directing obscene gesture at Black Lives Matter protesters

Shaker Heights officer on leave after making obscene gesture at BLM rally

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Shaker Heights Police Department placed an officer on paid administrative leave following an internal investigation into their alleged actions ahead of Tuesday night’s presidential debate in Cleveland.

According to the department, a Shaker Heights police officer driving a vehicle as part of security for the presidential debate made an offensive gesture to a group of Black Lives Matter protesters outside of the restricted zone near the Cleveland Clinic’s main campus.

Last night a Shaker Heights police officer driving a security vehicle as part of the Presidential Debate detail is...

Posted by Shaker Heights Police Department on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The administrative leave took effect on Wednesday afternoon.

Cleveland Division of Police Chief Calvin Williams says once the officer’s Commander learned about what happened, the officer was promptly removed from the security detail. “That’s the way we expect our partners to operate here in the City of Cleveland. That Commander from Shaker did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Chief Williams said.

The Shaker Heights Police Officer accused of making the obscene gesture will remain on paid leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation.

People living and working in the Shaker Heights community say they understand police are under a lot of pressure, but they feel there’s no excuse if the officer doesn’t respect other’s rights.

Dan Farrell has lived in Shaker Heights for 16 years, “It’s really sad if a policeman acted like that. It’s very inappropriate. We need to respect each other and that’s just not the American way. Our country is so divisive we really need to be on guard and have consideration for others and respect each other.”

The Shaker Heights Police Department released the following statement regarding the officer’s actions:

“The Shaker Heights Police Department unequivocally supports the right of Black Lives Matter and all demonstrators to peacefully protest. We explicitly condemn any action by a police officer that interferes with or disrespects the rights of citizens to demonstrate. We are committed to confronting and rooting out unprofessional and inappropriate behavior within our department, and pledge to move as swiftly as possible in this case. We recognize that behavior such as this damages relationships that we have worked hard to build. We are committed to a police force that protects and represents all people and treats them fairly, and with dignity and respect.”

The investigation is still ongoing.

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