Wednesday, June 3, 2015





Cleveland Police Officer Acquitted of Manslaughter in 2012 Deaths

MAY 23, 2015
New York Times

Judge John P. O’Donnell with mannequins showing the gunshot wounds to Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Credit Tony Dejak/Associated Press      
CLEVELAND — A police officer who climbed onto the hood of a car after a chase in 2012 and fired repeatedly at its unarmed occupants, both of them black, was acquitted of manslaughter on Saturday by an Ohio judge.

The trial of the white officer, Michael Brelo, following harrowing episodes in communities such as Baltimore, Staten Island and Ferguson, Mo., played out amid broader questions of how the police interact with African-Americans and use force, in Cleveland and across the country.

Officer Brelo, 31, was one of 13 officers who fired 137 rounds at Timothy Russell and his passenger, Malissa Williams, who were killed after a chase through the area on Nov. 29, 2012. Officer Brelo fired his  Glock 17 pistol 49 times, including at least 15 shots after he reloaded and climbed onto the hood of Mr. Russell’s 1979 Chevrolet Malibu and the other officers had stopped firing.

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The chase started downtown after reports of gunfire from the car; prosecutors said the noise apparently was the result of the car’s backfiring. More than 100 officers pursued the car for more than 20 miles at speeds that reached 100 miles an hour. They began firing when the car was stopped and cornered.

While Officer Brelo did fire lethal shots at the two people, testimony did not prove that his shots caused either death, according to the ruling of Judge John P. O’Donnell of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. “The state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, Michael Brelo, knowingly caused the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams,” he ruled.
Officer Brelo, a former Marine who had opted for a bench trial, sat stoically throughout the four-week trial. On Saturday, he could be seen shifting in his seat, at times sitting back, and at other times resting his head in his hands. At one point, he made a quick sign of the cross. He embraced his lawyers after the verdict. He remains on an unpaid suspension.

Defense lawyers said their client had feared for his life and believed gunfire was coming from Mr. Russell’s car. No gun was recovered, and prosecutors said Mr. Russell and Ms. Williams had been unarmed.

Patrick A. D’Angelo, one of Officer Brelo’s lawyers, said his team was “elated” with the verdict, and he blamed an “oppressive government” for bringing the charges. “We stood tall; we stood firm,” Mr. D’Angelo said, “because we didn’t do anything illegal. We didn’t do anything wrong.”

But the verdict does not mean the end of scrutiny of the case or of police issues in Cleveland.

Federal officials will review the trial testimony and evidence, and a city panel is investigating Mr. Brelo’s actions and police conduct in the episode. Five supervisors face misdemeanor charges for their oversight of the case.

There are also two ongoing investigations of police shootings in November. One is looking into the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy who was holding a replica gun when a white Cleveland police officer shot him. That shooting, captured on video, has also garnered national attention and resulted in protests.

In the other, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office is investigating the death of Tanisha Anderson. Ms. Anderson, a 37-year-old black woman whose family said she suffered from bipolar disorder, lost consciousness and died in police custody after being placed face down on the pavement. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide

A Cleveland police officer who climbed onto the hood of a car after a chase and fired repeatedly at its unarmed occupants in 2012 was acquitted of manslaughter on Saturday by an Ohio judge. By Reuters on Publish Date May 23, 2015. Photo by Tony Dejak/Associated Press.
The verdict on Saturday was met with anger by many, particularly blacks. Last year, the Justice Department found a pattern of “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” within the department.

Representative Marcia L. Fudge, a Democrat whose district is based in Cleveland, said Judge O’Donnell’s verdict was “a stunning setback.”

“The verdict is another chilling reminder of a broken relationship between the Cleveland police department and the community it serves,” she said. “Today we have been told — yet again — our lives have no value.”

At a midafternoon news conference, Cleveland’s mayor and police chief said there had been a number of nonviolent demonstrations in the city and that officers were working to keep the protests under control.

“So far, the protesters are making their voices heard, but they are doing it in a peaceful and very respectful way,” Mayor Frank Jackson said just after 4 p.m. “Police are doing an excellent job of monitoring the situation and protecting everyone’s rights — protesters and everyone else.”

A protest march continued into the evening, with more than 100 demonstrators chanting and blocking traffic downtown. There were several tense moments, including some minor scuffles and games of cat-and-mouse with the police, and unruliness with Cleveland Indians fans leaving the baseball stadium, but the event remained largely peaceful. The crowd dwindled as the evening went on, and the police first made a handful of arrests after 9 p.m., the time protesters were ordered to disperse.

DeVrick Stewart, 29, of Cleveland, said he had been marching since the morning and saw broad issues with how the police treat people.

“I came out because this seems to be a world issue,” said Mr. Stewart, who mentioned both the Brelo case and Tamir Rice’s death. “It’s not a white or black issue. It’s a police versus society issue.”

Timothy McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, said in a news conference after the verdict that the investigation had led to several changes that he believed would prevent deaths, including better use-of-force training and increased penalties for officers who disregard department policies. As a result of the changes, “there will never have to be another Brelo trial,” he said.

Five police supervisors have been charged with dereliction of duty, a misdemeanor, for failing to bring the fatal chase under control. “We look forward to presenting another vigorous prosecution,” Mr. McGinty said.

In a statement, the United States attorney’s office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice said they would review the testimony and evidence.

“We will continue our assessment, review all available legal options and will collaboratively determine what, if any, additional steps are available and appropriate given the requirements and limitations of the applicable laws in the federal judicial system,” the statement said.

In 2013, the Critical Incident Review Committee was formed to review the shooting. Cleveland’s police chief, Calvin D. Williams, said during a news conference that, so far, 72 officers had been suspended without pay. One supervisor was fired, and two more were demoted. Administrative charges against three officers were dismissed. The review was paused during Officer Brelo’s trial, but was expected to resume after the verdict.

Nine of the police officers disciplined for their roles in the shooting have filed a federal lawsuit against the city for racial discrimination. The officers — eight whites and one Hispanic — claim that they were disciplined more harshly because they were not black.

After the verdict, Officer Brelo’s future with the department remained unclear. Stephen S. Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said Officer Brelo was going on a vacation with his family, but it was not known if he would be able to return to work.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Officer Brelo’s actions crossed the line from justifiable to reckless when he climbed onto the car’s hood, but the judge disagreed.

Protesters outside the Justice Center after Officer Brelo's acquittal in Cleveland on Saturday. Credit Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters
Before rendering his verdict, Judge O’Donnell spoke from the bench about widespread tensions between the police and African-Americans, mentioning Ferguson and Baltimore.

“In many American places, people are angry with, mistrustful and fearful of, the police,” he said. “Citizens think the men and women sworn to protect and serve have violated that oath or never meant it in the first place.”

But Judge O’Donnell said he would not let those sentiments cloud his verdict, and he found that Officer Brelo had reasonably perceived a threat from Mr. Russell’s car. The decision to continue firing from the hood was protected by law, he ruled, clearing Officer Brelo of all charges. The shooting was “reasonable despite knowing now that there was no gun in the car and he was mistaken about the gunshots,” Judge O’Donnell said.

“I reject the claim that 12 seconds after the shooting began, it was patently clear from the perspective of a reasonable police officer that the threat had been stopped,” he said, contrasting the prosecutors’ claims that the justifiable action ended when Officer Brelo climbed onto the hood.

Officer Brelo will remain on unpaid suspension while the review panel that was formed after the shooting continues its investigation into his actions and those of 12 other officers involved, Chief Williams said. In November, the City of Cleveland agreed to pay $3 million to settle wrongful-death lawsuits brought by the families of Mr. Russell and Ms. Williams.

Surrounded by members of Mr. Russell’s family on Saturday afternoon, Paul Cristallo, a lawyer for the family, said relatives were “hugely disappointed” with the verdict. He said that the police created the chaotic circumstances that ultimately led to Officer Brelo’s acquittal. Police officers are trained to de-escalate tensions with civilians, he said, but that “doesn’t include surrounding them with 62 cars and having 13 officers shooting at them.”

“Fleeing and eluding shouldn’t get you the death penalty,” he added.

Mr. Russell’s sister, Michelle, lamented that the trial had relied on the version of events told by police officers, and said her brother and Ms. Williams were never able to tell their side of the story. The police officers were angry, she said, and acted with a “mob mentality.”

“They knew that night that once they caught up to Tim and Malissa that they were going to let them have it,” she said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”

But in closing arguments, Mr. D’Angelo said his client believed he was under attack when he fired on the car. “What would make him want to shoot through the windshield at another human being?” Mr. D’Angelo said. “Could it be that he was shot at? Could it be that he reasonably perceived that the occupants of the Malibu were shooting at him? That’s what all the other officers perceived. That’s what Officer Brelo perceived.”

Mitch Smith reported from Cleveland, and Ashley Southall from New York. Rodney Bengston contributed reporting




(Originally posted on December 5, 2014):

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Relentless Deadly National Assault of White Supremacy On Black America And Our Fiercely Determined National Fight Against It In All Of Its Guises
State Terrorism and Racist Violence in the Age of Disposability:  From Emmett Till to Eric Garner
05 December 2014
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed

"If you want a picture of the future imagine a boot stomping on a human face forever."
--George Orwell

A police officer atop an armored vehicle looks through the scope of a rifle towards a crowd of demonstrators gathered to protest the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 12, 2014. The militarized police response to the protests over the shooting of an unarmed teenager has elicited a broad call from across the political spectrum for America’s police forces to be demilitarized. (Whitney Curtis/The New York Times)

The larger reasons behind Eric Garner's execution seem to be missed by most commentators. The issue is not simply police misconduct, or racist acts of police brutality, however deadly, but the growing use of systemic terror of the sort we associate with Hannah Arendt's notion of totalitarianism that needs to be explored.

When fear and terror become the organizing principles of a society in which the tyranny of the state has been replaced by the despotism of an unaccountable market, violence becomes the only valid form of control. The system has not failed. As Jeffrey St. Clair has pointed out, it is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, which is to punish those it considers dangerous or disposable - which increasingly includes more and more individuals and groups. Hannah Arendt was right in arguing that, "If lawfulness is the essence of non-tyrannical government and lawlessness is the essence of tyranny, then terror is the essence of totalitarian domination." 1

In an age when the delete button and an utterly commodified and privatized culture erase all vestiges of memory and commitment, it is easy for a society to remove itself from those sordid memories that reveal the systemic injustices that belie the presence of state violence and terrorism. Not only do the dangerous memories of bodies being lynched, beaten, tortured and murdered disappear in the fog of celebrity culture and the 24/7 entertainment/news cycle, but the historical flashpoints that once revealed the horrors of unaccountable power and acts of systemic barbarism are both disconnected from any broader understanding of domination and vanish into a past that no longer has any connection to the present.
The murder of Emmett Till; the killing of the four young black girls, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair, in the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama; the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr; the killing by four officers of Amadou Diallo; and the recent killings of countless young black children and men and women, coupled with the ongoing and egregious incarceration of black men in this country are not isolated expressions of specific, marginalized failures of a system. They are the system, a system of authoritarianism that has intensified without apology. Rather than being viewed or forgotten as isolated, but unfortunate, expressions of extremism, these incidents are part of a growing systemic pattern of violence and terror that has unapologetically emerged at a time when the politics and logic of disposability has been normalized in American society and violence has become the default position for solving all social problems, especially as they pertain to poor minorities of class and color.
When ethics and any vestige of social responsibility and the public good are trampled beneath the hooves of the finance state, there is no space for democratic values or justice. We live in an age of disposability - an historical period of increasing barbarism ruled by financial monsters, who offer no political concessions and are driven by a death-drive.
The aim of the terrorist state, as Arendt argues, is not only to instill fear, but to destroy the very capacity for convictions, rather than to instill them. Under such conditions, power is not only unaccountable, but it is free from any sense of moral and political conviction. Hence, the rise of the punishing state as a way to govern all of social life. In this context, life becomes disposable for most, but especially for poor minorities of class and color. I think bell hooks is right when she states that "the point of lynching historically was not to kill individuals but to let everybody know: 'This could happen to you.' " This is how a terrorist state controls people. It individualizes fear and insecurity and undercuts the formation of collective struggle. Fear of punishment, of being killed, tortured, or reduced to the mere level of survival has become the government's weapon of choice. The terrorist state manufactures ignorance and relies on induced isolation and privatization to depoliticize the population. Beliefs are reduced to the realm of the private allowing the public realm to sink into the dark night of barbarism, terror and lawlessness.

As an endless expression of barbarism and the ongoing elimination of any vestige of equality and democratic values, the killing of innocent black children and adults by the police makes clear that Americans now inhabit a state of absolute lawlessness, one that both fills the Hollywood screens with prurient entertainment and a culture of cruelty and, unfortunately, provides testimony to the ravaging violence that marks everyday life as well.

Calls for minor reforms such as retraining the police, hiring more minorities, or making the grand jury system more transparent will not change a political and social system that has lost its connection to the ideals, values and promises of a democracy. Just as calls for punishing the Wall Street crooks who caused the financial crisis will not reform the system that produced the financial debacle.

Calls for such reforms do not challenge the totalitarian politics and financial forces that rule American society, they simply give the system a veil of legitimacy, suggesting it can be fixed. It can’t be fixed. It is a death-dealing system ruled by political and moral zombies, and it has to be transformed through the ongoing, nonviolent mobilization and development of social movements that can imagine a democracy that is real, substantive and radical in its calls for justice, equality and freedom. The dark possibilities of our times are everywhere. Let's hope the killing of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner provides the beginning of a political and social movement to fight what has become a dark and gruesome political state of governance in the United States.
1. Hannah Arendt, "Ideology and Terror: A Novel Form of Government," The Origins of Totalitarianism, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York: 2001). pp. 464.
May not be reprinted without permission of the author.

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books include: Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Paradigm 2013), America's Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014), and The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America's Disimagination Machine (City Lights, 2014). The Toronto Star named Henry Giroux one of the 12 Canadians changing the way we think! Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His website is
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A police officer atop an armored vehicle looks through the scope of a rifle towards a crowd of demonstrators gathered to protest the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 12, 2014. The militarized police response to the protests over the shooting of an unarmed teenager has elicited a broad call from across the political spectrum for America’s police forces to be demilitarized. (Whitney Curtis/The New York Times)
Advocates of justice for Michael Brown gathered in Minneapolis (Fibonacci Blue)

Darren Wilson Reportedly Received a Large Financial Gain as a Result of Killing Michael Brown


David Parkman reported the other day that unnamed sources claim that Darren Wilson, a former Ferguson police officer who murdered Michael Brown, was paid somewhere in the range of $500,000 for his exclusive "first" post-killing interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. ABC News and Wilson both deny the reports of a fee, but it wouldn't be the first time that a major news network has paid big bucks for a grand spectacle sensationalist interview if Parkman is correct.
In addition, The Root recounted reports that more than one millions dollars was raised from supporters, as of November 30, for Wilson. If both these figures are approximately accurate, then it means that Wilson has financially benefitted to the tune of about $1.5 million, with more donations and "celebrity fees" no doubt to come.
It is worthy of note, as Parkman , that Stephanopoulos conducted a soft ball interview with Wilson. It was as much a dereliction of journalistic professional standards as the non-cross examination of Wilson before the grand jury by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch was a perversion of prosecutorial legal practices.
Yes, there are those who will argue that Wilson - who received a salary of $45,302 as a 28 year old Ferguson police officer - is now out of a job and deserves financial remuneration. However, there's a more compelling and historical prism through which to see the alleged windfall that Wilson is receiving: it's basically a bounty for killing a black man, a reward for a lynching by bullets. Is that a hyperbolic charge? Not really.

BuzzFlash at Truthout posted a commentary yesterday on how even the head of the New York Police Department views people such as Eric Garner (and one can assume Michael Brown) as "pests" or vermin. What were the precipitating actions that led to their killings: selling single cigarettes and walking on the street? In reality, the context of who they were was more important in understanding why they were targeted: black males who have been branded as undesirables by urban police policy.
The deference that prosecutor McCulloch and then "journalist" Stephanopoulos gave to Wilson is the filter through which the public perception of Brown's death is framed, particularly to a large percentage of the US white population that views black males - as voiced by Wilson - as looking "like a demon." This is a legacy of racism that extends back to slavery and the Jim Crow era when black males could be brutalized or lynched for exhibiting even a perceived defiance of any white, even if it was just walking down the sidewalk and glaring at a white person.
That corporate mainstream "news" allegedly is a large contributor to the mass media-age bounty being paid for killing Michael Brown is abominable.

Copyright Truthout. May Not Be Reprinted Without Permission.

Obama under pressure over response to police killings after Eric Garner decision

President creates task force and pledges to work with New York mayor after latest police killing of an unarmed black man prompts more unrest

The real problem in Ferguson, New York and all of America is institutional racism
by Paul Lewis in Washington
Thursday 4 December 2014
The Guardian

President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio will join forces to improve relations between police and minority communities, the  White House announced on Thursday, after the two leaders discussed protests surrounding the death of Eric Garner.

There are growing questions about Obama’s response to a prominent set of police killings of unarmed black men and children that have raised questions about alleged discriminatory policing and impunity.

Obama has not visited any of the communities affected by the high-profile killings. They include Staten Island, where Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, and Ferguson, the St Louis suburb where Michael Brown was fatally shot by officer Darren Wilson.

In both cases, grand juries decided not to indict the police officers, prompting large – and, in the case of Ferguson, violent – protests. Nor has Obama visited Cleveland, Ohio, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot dead by police officer Timothy Loehmann.

“As the president of the United States and as the mayor of its largest city, the two pledged to work together to help strengthen the trust and bond between law enforcement and the local communities that they serve,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

“The two leaders also discussed how this is not just an issue for New York or Ferguson, Missouri, but a problem that extends to communities across the country.”

In brief remarks on Thursday, Obama said he had spoken with De Blasio about the Garner case and added: “Too many Americans feel a deep unfairness when it comes to the gap between our professed ideals and how laws are applied on a day-to-day basis.”

“Beyond the specific issue, that has to be addressed – making sure that people have confidence that police and law enforcement and prosecutors are serving everybody equally – there is a larger question of restoring a sense of common purpose.”

Critics of Obama complain he has failed to implement concrete proposals. On Monday the president lamented how there have been “commissions before, there have been task forces, there have been conversations, and nothing happens”.

Obama’s solution was the creation of another task force. He also resisted curtailing controversial federal programs that transfer military-grade weaponry to local police forces, which became an issue after the extremely forceful response to protests immediately after Brown’s death. Earnest said the country should give “the benefit of the doubt” to Obama’s task force and evaluate its recommendations.

Democrats were united in their dismay at the decision not to indict Pantaleo and over the broader questions emerging about police accountability in the US.

One of the most forceful denunciations of the decision came from the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Marcia Fudge. “Even in the face of video footage, it appears justice will not be served for Mr Garner or his family,” she said.

“In the span of two weeks, this nation seems to have heard one message loud and clear: there will be no accountability for taking black lives,” she said. “As an American, it is growing increasingly difficult to believe that there is justice for all.”

Dena Wessel stands near police officers during protests in Seattle, Washington, after the Eric Garner grand jury decision was released. Photograph: Matt Mills McKnight/EPA

Republicans were split over the wisdom of the New York grand jury’s decision and the existence of wider problems of discriminatory policing, which Obama and his attorney general Eric Holder argue persist in some communities across the country.

The Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, said he would “not rule in or out” the suggestion from one of his deputies, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, for congressional hearings.

“Clearly both of these are serious tragedies that we’ve seen in our society,” Boehner said about the Garner and Brown deaths. “I do think the American people deserve more answers about what really happened here and was our system of justice handled properly.”

McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican conference, said in an MSNBC interview earlier on Thursday that the House should “absolutely” hold hearings into the Garner case. “We need to understand why this decision was made,” she said. “I would call for the House to have those hearings.”

Staten Island’s Republican congressman, Michael Grimm, defended the grand jury’s decision.

“There’s no question that this grand jury had an immensely difficult task before them, but I have full faith that their judgment was fair and reasoned and I applaud [district attorney Daniel] Donovan for overseeing this case with the utmost integrity.” Grimm, a former FBI agent, won re-election last month despite facing an imminent trial over federal indictments for fraud, charges he denies.

The most trenchant defence of Pantaleo came from the Republican New York representative Peter King. “I feel strongly the police officer should not have been indicted,” he said. He claimed that had Garner “not had asthma and a heart condition or was so obese, almost definitely he would not have died from this”.

“I know people are saying that he said eleven times or seven times ‘I can’t breathe,’” King added in a CNN interview. “Well the fact is that if you can’t breathe, you can’t talk. If you’ve ever seen people locked-up resisting arrest – and I’ve seen it, and it has been white guys – and they’re always saying ‘You’re breaking my arm,’ ‘You’re choking me’ during this. So police hear that all the time.”

Eric Garner protest

Students at Emory University participate in a mass ‘die in’ during a protest on campus against the decision of a grand jury not to indict a police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, in Atlanta, Georgia. Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

Garner, a father of six, was arrested in July under suspicion of peddling untaxed “loose” cigarettes. Moments before he was apprehended, Garner told police: “Every time you see me, you wanna harass me, you wanna stop me…I’m minding my business, officer.”

An autopsy found Garner died as a result of the chokehold, compressions to the chest, and prone positioning during his restraint by police. The New York grand jury could have considered multiple charges, from murder to a lesser offense such as reckless endangerment, but the Staten Island district attorney, Daniel Donovan, said jurors found “no reasonable cause” to bring charges.

Hours after the grand jury decision was made public, Holder announced a federal Department of Justice investigation into whether Garner’s civil rights were violated.

King, the son of a police officer, also rejected the notion there was a racial or civil rights dimension to Garner’s treatment by the NYPD and took aim at African Americans civil rights leaders representing the families of Garner, Brown and a string of other victims of alleged police brutality in recent months. The Rev Al Sharpton was among those who met with Obama at a White House meeting dealing with the fallout from unrest in Ferguson on Monday, along with law enforcement officials and clergy.

“President Obama, if he’s serious about trying to bring racial peace to this country, the last thing he should be doing having Al Sharpton sit in the White House,” King said. “When he says that people in the African American community don’t trust the police, one of the reason is because agitators like Al Sharpton are constantly criticising and attacking and denouncing the police.”

Cleveland officer who shot Tamir Rice had 'dismal' handgun performance for Independence police

By Adam Ferrise, Northeast Ohio Media Group
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
December 03, 2014

Full surveillance video captures a Cleveland police officer fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice Warning: May contain disturbing footage. Police officials release surveillance video that captures a Cleveland police officer fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice at a West Side recreation center

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice had issues with handling guns during his brief tenure with a suburban police department.

A Nov. 29, 2012 letter contained in Tim Loehmann's personnel file from the Independence Police Department says that during firearms qualification training he was "distracted" and "weepy."

"He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal," according to the letter written by Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence police.

The letter recommended that the department part ways with Loehmann, who went on to become a police officer with the Cleveland Division of Police.
"I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies," Polak said.

Cleveland police said on Wednesday that they never reviewed the Independence file and changed their policies to include checking publicly available records for potential hires.

Loehmann is currently under investigation by the Cleveland police department's use of deadly force investigation team, made up of homicide detectives, several internal units and city and Cuyahoga County prosecutors in the Nov. 22 shooting outside the Cudell Recreation Center.
Loehmann shot Tamir less than two seconds after he arrived to investigate a complaint about Tamir carrying what turned out to be a fake gun.

Independence released Loehmann's personnel file Wednesday, the day after Cleveland police released files for him and his partner during the shooting.

In an interview with the Northeast Ohio Media Group, Loehmann's father said that his son left Independence to pursue a job with Cleveland police because he wanted "more action."

It is unclear if Cleveland officials saw the Independence files before Loehmann was hired in Cleveland. A message left for Cleveland police spokesman Sgt. Ali Pillow was not immediately returned.

Loehmann's Cleveland personnel file shows someone marked a letter from Loehmann in which he wrote that he resigned from Independence one day after graduating from the Cleveland Heights Police Academy.

Someone also jotted down the name and phone number for Polak and Independence Police Chief Michael Kilbane. The file does not say if Cleveland officials contacted Independence.

Loehmann was allowed to resign from the Independence police. He tendered his resignation Dec. 4, 2012 after six months with the department. He was hired in March of this year by Cleveland police.

The Independence report details a host of issues with Loehmann's performance as an officer during his short stint with the department.

Loehmann's troubles began in 2012 while he attended the Cleveland Heights Police Academy. An issue with an on-again, off-again girlfriend caused Loehmann distress and, in one case, he fell asleep during  training, according to a written report from Independence Police Sgt. Greg Tinnirello.

Loehmann told Tinnirello that he cried often about his personal issue during training and Loehmann's mother told Tinnierello that her son's study papers "would be soaked in tears nightly for three months."

On Nov. 26, 2012, Loehmann was ordered to stay in the Independence police dispatch center. Loehmann left without authorization and lied to Tinnierello that the dispatchers told him he could leave, the letter says.
Loehmann eventually admitted to lying.

The problems at Independence erupted on Nov. 28, 2012, the records say. Loehmann showed up "sleepy and upset" for a 6 a.m. state gun qualification session.

Tinnierello wrote that Loehmann "was distracted and was not following simple instructions" at the shooting range.
At one point, he went to the back of the range to reload his magazine and could not return to the line where he was supposed to shoot from, Tinnierello wrote. Loehmann appeared to be crying and was emotionally upset so Tinnierello said they would stop the exercise for the day.
Tinnierello and Loehmann talked about Loehmann's personal problems as they made the 40-minute drive to Atwells Police Supply to pick up a bulletproof vest for Loehmann.
Loehmann told Tinnierello that he "was unclear where his future was headed" and thought about quitting when Tinnierello told him he would continue training until Independence police thought he could handle the job.
"Loehmann stated 'that just makes me want to quit,'" Tinnierello replied, according to Tinnierello.

Tinnierello reported the information to Polak. The two decided to send Loehmann home for the day and call his parents because they were concerned for his well-being. The three met the next day.

Loehmann told his supervisors that he spoke with two friends, a priest and a Cleveland police officer about how to deal with personal stress at work. Loehmann expressed his frustration about for a small police department in Independence instead of living in New York where he could be close to friends.

He told Polak that he wanted to work at the New York Police Department where his father worked for 20 years.
Polak concluded his report by saying that Loehmann lacked the maturity to understand the severity of his breakdown on the shooting range.

"Unfortunately in law enforcement there are times when instructions need to be followed to the letter and I am under the impression that Ptl. Loehmann, under certain circumstances, will not react in the way instructed," Polak wrote.

Cudell Rec center shooting:

Justice Department report likely little comfort to Tamir Rice family and others: Mark Naymik

Tamir Rice shooting should be rallying point for real community policing: Mark Naymik

Cleveland officer who shot Tamir Rice had 'dismal' handgun performance for Independence police

Personnel files of officers involved in Tamir Rice shooting released by Cleveland officials

Some Cleveland Council members declare police shooting of Tamir Rice unjustified

Full surveillance video captures a Cleveland police officer fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice Warning: May contain disturbing footage. Police officials release surveillance video that captures a Cleveland police officer fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice at a West Side recreation center

The New York Times
Monday, May 25, 2015

Cleveland Is Said to Settle Justice Department Lawsuit Over Policing

The city of Cleveland has reached a settlement with the Justice Department over what federal authorities said was a pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force, people briefed on the case said Monday.

The settlement, which could be announced as early as Tuesday, comes days after a judge declared a Cleveland police officer not guilty of manslaughter for climbing onto the hood of a car and firing repeatedly at its unarmed occupants, both of them black. The verdict prompted hours of protests and reignited discussions about how police officers treat the city’s African-American residents.


Cleveland Reaches Settlement With Justice Department Over Police Conduct

Federal authorities had cited a pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force in a report on the Cleveland Division of Police.


Cleveland Reaches Settlement With Justice Department Over Police Conduct
MAY 25, 2015
New York Times

Demonstrators pause on Saturday at the entrance to the Cuyahoga County Justice Center as police stand guard during a protest against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects. Credit John Minchillo/Associated Press

CLEVELAND — Cleveland has reached a settlement with the Justice Department over what federal authorities said was a pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force, people briefed on the case said Monday.

The settlement, which could be announced as early as Tuesday, comes days after a judge declared a Cleveland police officer not guilty of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a car’s two unarmed occupants, both of them black.

The verdict prompted a day and night of protests and reignited discussions about how police officers treat the city’s African-American residents.

The details of the settlement were not immediately clear, but in similar talks in recent years, the Justice Department has required cities to allow independent monitors to oversee changes in police departments. Settlements are typically backed by court orders and often call for improved training and revised policies for the use of force.

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A spokeswoman for the Cleveland Division of Police referred questions to the mayor’s office, which would not comment on Monday. Dena Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also had no comment.

Verdict in Cleveland Police Shooting

A Cleveland police officer who climbed onto the hood of a car after a chase and fired repeatedly at its unarmed occupants in 2012 was acquitted of manslaughter on Saturday by an Ohio judge.

By Reuters on Publish Date May 23, 2015. Photo by Tony Dejak/Associated Press.

The Justice Department opened an inquiry into the Cleveland police force months after the 2012 shooting of the unarmed occupants in a car, and issued its report in December. Cleveland is among several cities, including Ferguson, Mo., New York and Baltimore, that have become focal points of a national debate over policing and race.

On Saturday, demonstrators spent hours marching through Cleveland after a judge acquitted Officer Michael Brelo of manslaughter for his role in the 2012 shooting, which began with a police chase of the car. While several officers fired a combined 137 shots, Officer Brelo was singled out for manslaughter charges because he climbed onto the hood of the car after the pursuit ended and fired 15 shots into the vehicle.

The occupants, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, died from gunshot wounds. The judge ruled that the actions of Officer Brelo, who is white, were lawful.

Cleveland’s streets have stayed calm since Saturday, when the police reported 71 arrests, some on felony charges.

Dozens of protesters appeared in court here Monday on misdemeanor charges. Some still wore T-shirts with messages like “I Can’t Breathe,” a reference to Eric Garner, who died after being put in a police chokehold in Staten Island last year, and “Black Lives Matter.”

For Cleveland, a settlement with the Justice Department averts a long and costly court fight and the appearance that city leaders are resisting change. Mayor Frank Jackson faces a recall petition from city activists who say, among other grievances, that he has not done enough to prevent police abuses.

The Justice Department has called Mr. Jackson a full partner in its effort to improve the police force.

The Justice Department has opened nearly two dozen investigations into police departments under the Obama administration. Federal investigators found patterns of unconstitutional policing in cities including  Seattle, Newark, Albuquerque and Ferguson. Federal authorities recently announced they would investigate the Baltimore police after Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died of injuries he suffered while in custody.

In Seattle, the federal inquiry led local officials to overhaul training and focus on how officers can calm tense situations without using force. In Albuquerque, city officials agreed to change the way the police are trained, outfit officers with body cameras and improve how the department investigates officer-involved shootings.
Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams held a news conference Sunday after Officer Michael Brelo’s acquittal. Credit Michael F. McElroy for The New York Times

Officials in Ferguson are negotiating a possible settlement over accusations that officers routinely violated the Constitution.

The Justice Department’s report on the Cleveland police was among its most scathing, finding that they engaged in a pattern of “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force.”

Investigators said officers unnecessarily used deadly force; used excessive force against mentally ill people; and inappropriately resorted to stun guns, chemical sprays and punches.

It detailed tactical blunders, and said officers too often imperiled bystanders when they used force.

The Justice Department also criticized a “structurally flawed” discipline policy that it said made it too hard to punish officers for improperly using force.

The report highlighted one case in which officers kicked an African-American man in the head while he was handcuffed and on the ground, then did not report having used force during the arrest.

“Supervisors throughout the chain of command endorse questionable and sometimes unlawful conduct by officers,” Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s top civil rights prosecutor, said in December. “Officers are not provided with adequate training, policy guidance and supervision to do their jobs safely and effectively.”

The report was compiled too early to cover the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with a replica gun in a Cleveland park in November when the police shot him. Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to charge officers in his death or in the case of Tanisha Anderson, 37, who died after she was restrained in a prone position on the pavement.

Most of the protesters arraigned Monday were charged with refusal to disperse, and 35 pleaded no contest to an amended charge of disorderly conduct, which carries no jail time. Twenty people pleaded not guilty and will contest the charges. More protesters are expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

Talis Gage, 31, a Cleveland native now living in a different part of Ohio, was among those who pleaded no contest and was released Monday morning. As with others who pleaded no contest, he was sentenced to time served and was not issued a fine. Mr. Gage said he joined the Saturday protest because he believed that Officer Brelo was guilty of a crime.

“What happened was not justice,” Mr. Gage said outside the courthouse shortly after his release. “It was unfair for this man to walk away with no jail time at all.”

Mitch Smith reported from Cleveland, and Matt Apuzzo from Washington.

A version of this article appears in print on May 26, 2015, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Makes Deal With Cleveland on Police Abuses.