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Cleveland Police officer fired after using stun gun against man who taunted officer

The city says officer “failed to use de-escalation tactics” before using a stun gun on the man.
Updated: Feb. 15, 2021 at 7:15 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A former Cleveland police officer used excessive force multiple times before management stepped in and fired him, according to city records obtained by 19 Investigates.

The officer was fired in December.

Now, Investigator Hannah Catlett has video from more than one incident where officials say officer John Petkac acted inappropriately.

The question is: why did it take more than two years after the first incident for the department to fire the officer?

Had the first case been reported correctly and handled quicker, would it have prevented more people from being treated unfairly by the same officer?

The new video we obtained shows a 2019 incident where Petkac uses a stun gun on a man who was taunting police.

NEW: 19 Investigates discovered a former Cleveland Police officer used excessive force multiple times before management...

Posted by Hannah Catlett on Monday, February 15, 2021

According to Petkac’s termination letter he failed to use de-escalation tactics in the situation.

While police were apprehending a different suspect, the man was shouting profanities at officers in the distance.

Instead of getting in his car and driving away, you can see Petkac confront the man.

When he doesn’t listen, Petkac reacts, and uses his stun gun to take the man down to the ground.

According to documents we obtained, the city’s safety director says Petkac should not have tased the man who was “passively resisting.”

And, the city says Petkac wasn’t truthful about the incident afterwards.

We now know the stun gun incident happened more than a year after Petkac used excessive force against another suspect.

A former Cleveland Police officer used excessive force multiple times before management stepped in-- according to city...

Posted by Hannah Catlett on Monday, February 15, 2021

Last week, we showed you video Petkac’s body camera picked up in 2018 as he responded to a domestic violence call.

After finding the suspect, London Wilson, hiding in a trashcan, Petkac pulls him out by his hair. Then Petkac steps on his throat as he waits for backup to arrive.

Wilson asks why he’s treating him this way.

Petkac accuses him of attempting to grab his service weapon before pushing him to the ground again.

However, Wilson appears to have had his hands in the air from the moment Petkac opened the trash bin.

Five other officers were suspended at the end of last year, after the city says they failed to report Petkac’s actions in 2018.

It’s unclear when the truth came out and if it was before the taser incident nearly a year later.

Either way, Petkac remained working on the streets of Cleveland, which ultimately lead to the additional policy violations the city fired him for.

Police say there was Petkac also used “unprofessional conduct” during an incident in September of 2019.

That’s after both of the cases we just outlined.

We reached out to the city and Cleveland police for comment for this story multiple times in the last week. Neither has responded.

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