‘No snitching’ code of silence makes it difficult for police to solve teen shootings

Cleveland Police respond to a double shooting on New Year's weekend.
Cleveland Police respond to a double shooting on New Year's weekend.(WOIO/Cleveland Police)
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 10:43 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Two teenage brothers were shot and injured on New Year’s Day.

Their case still remains unsolved.

Cleveland Police told us part of the problem is the victims are not cooperating.

And that’s something they see all too often.

19 Investigates looks into what can be done to break through the “no snitching” code of silence.

Body camera video from Cleveland Police, obtained through public records, shows us what happened behind the crime scene tape of one of the first shootings of the year.

It was one of many on New Year’s weekend involving teenagers.

It took 19 Investigates six months to get a hold of this video through public records.

The shooting at Harvard Avenue and East 131st Street was caught on the city’s ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system.

Once on the scene, officers learned the victims, just 15 and 16 years old, are brothers.

One was shot in the hand and the other was shot in the leg.

Police tried to figure out what happened as paramedics arrived to help.

The identity of both victims was protected in this case since they’re juveniles.

“Hey, did you see who did it?” the police officer asked the victim on the body camera video.

“No, no,” he said.

“No info, you didn’t see an SUV or nothing?” the officer asked.

“No, no,” the victim said.

“Did you see the shooter?” the officer asked.

“I seen (sic) one dude, he had on all black,” the victim said.

“Was he on foot or in a car?” the officer asked.

“I just seen (sic) him, I didn’t see no car, no nothing,” the victim said.

This interaction with police shows the victim didn’t say much.

He eventually told police he saw a man in all black and a ski mask run away.

But two witnesses did seem to try to help, identifying a pickup truck that fled the scene.

Officers later found shell casings in the front yard.

But since then, the investigation has stalled because no one is talking.

19 Investigates spoke with Al Porter with Black on Black Crime.

“There are a lot more reasons to come forward than to stay silent,” Porter said.

He mentors kids and teens making sure they know what snitching means and doesn’t mean.

“I let them know that if you have nothing to do with something, then it is your duty to go ahead and make sure that the people are apprehended so that it doesn’t come back and fall on you or your loved ones later on,” Porter said.

We asked Porter what the solution could be to end the code of silence.

Porter said the idea is simple - it’s to remind people to do the right thing.

But he said it’s an uphill battle.

“The best way to deal with snitching is continuous education. That’s it. There’s nowhere around it,” he said.

Cleveland Police said there have been no arrests in this shooting and they have tried to talk with the victims several times, but they’re not cooperating.

The victims were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

They admitted to police they were going to sell marijuana right before the shooting happened.

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