EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — Prosecutors in Ohio announced Wednesday new charges of unlawful conduct against nearly a dozen current or former officers in the troubled police department in East Cleveland, one of the state’s poorest cities.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said the latest charges against 11 current or former officers, including aggravated assault and civil rights violations, bring the total to 16 current or former officers charged with unlawful conduct over the past 6 1/2 months. has been alleged.
“Make no mistake, there is a cancer growing in the East Cleveland Police Department,” O’Malley said. “We are doing our best to remove every tentacle of that cancer so that this department can rebuild and grow, put itself in a position to hire officers who enforce the law as well as follow it.” “
The charges include aggravated assault, interference with civil rights, dereliction of duty, tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice, officials said. Officials said all the incidents of alleged misconduct happened before the new police chief was appointed.
Prosecutors showed officers videos showing people being punched or kicked or repeatedly using stun equipment, and said details of 11 new incidents and more videos would be released in the coming weeks.
O’Malley said the video showed people who “were giving up, they were showing their hands, they were acknowledging law enforcement … and it wasn’t enough — and I don’t know why.” What else can a civilian do except surrender.” And put your hands up and hope the arrest goes by the book.
Messages could not be left for representatives of the Cleveland Police Department as of Wednesday afternoon. The new police chief, Brian Gerhardt, a 27-year veteran of the force, took office last month in Cleveland.
Seven officers were being indicted for the first time, while four were previously indicted, and 11 new incidents occurred between February 2020 and July 2022. Four current officers of the 26-member force are among those facing charges. A former Cleveland officer employed by a neighboring jurisdiction was fired after the announcement.
The charges against a total of 16 officers over the past 6 1/2 months resulted in a total of 31 incidents that occurred between June 2018 and July 2022 and involved 17 victims, officials said.
Officials with the county prosecutor’s office said the charges stemmed from citizen complaints or concerns raised by co-workers, and they praised investigators for reviewing video to verify details and exonerate victims in some cases. .
O’Malley said that all of the city’s residents were victimized by living in fear while doing everyday tasks, fearing “what might happen when they get pulled over by a bus or maybe they are confronted while walking the streets.”
He said he hopes the new recruits are being taught professional law enforcement techniques and how to deal appropriately with people in the city.