Sunday, March 27, 2011

2 Cleveland police officers charged with assault are among department's most prolific uses of force

Written and reported with Gabriel Baird

Two Cleveland police officers accused of assaulting a Cleveland Heights man during a January arrest were among the department's most prolific users of nondeadly force last year, a Plain Dealer review of city records has found.

Kevin Smith reported using force 11 times in 2010, ranking him fifth in the department for the year. Martin Lentz reported eight such incidents, ranking him 11th.

Those two officers, along with Paul Crawford and Christopher Randolph, are accused of beating Edward Henderson following a late New Year's Day chase. Henderson, 40, suffered a broken eye socket, broken nose and detached retina. He has a history of mental illness.

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The life and times of the Rev. John Henry, the gun-collecting abbot with a colorful past

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- "A little oasis of promise from a troubled world."

That's how the Rev. John Henry described his Ohio City monastery and homeless shelter in January 1990, when neighbors spoke against his plans to build a larger dining room.

But 21 years to the day after Henry's soothing words appeared in The Plain Dealer, Cleveland police discovered that his oasis was something more like a mirage.

At Henry's apartment across from St. Herman's House of Hospitality were 80 guns, some in unlocked cars, along with 874 boxes of ammunition. A week later, another 150 guns and 1,314 boxes of ammunition were found at the farm in Amish country where the monk raised beef.

Supporters were stunned, but warning signs of a fragile mental state cluttered the shelter. After Henry, 58, surrendered the weapons and agreed to a leave of absence, at least 12 two-ton trucks were needed to haul away old furniture, clothing, knickknacks and other rubbish he had collected.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Cleveland police officers charged with felonious assault did not file report on use of force

Written and reported with Gabriel Baird

None of the four Cleveland police officers charged with assaulting a man during a New Year's Day arrest submitted paperwork required when non-deadly force is used, records obtained by The Plain Dealer show.

Whether the force is as simple as wrestling a suspect to the ground or as serious as using a Taser, department policy calls for officers to detail such incidents in special reports. The written accounts help track police behavior and trigger investigations.

Third District officers Paul Crawford, Martin Lentz, Christopher Randolph and Kevin Smith face felonious assault and obstruction of official business charges. They are accused of beating Edward Henderson, 40, on Jan. 1. All four have been suspended without pay and have pleaded not guilty.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cuyahoga County's boards of revision turn page on past with new members and refreshed approach

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- All three wore business suits.

Two men, one woman. Each with a calculator, stapler, staple remover, legal pad and pen.

They were polite but aggressive in the questions they asked the residential real estate developer and his lawyer, seated across the short conference table. An aging cassette-tape recorder and a overflowing dish of plastic-wrapped breath mints sat between them.

The hearing lasted more than a hour.

Eight months ago, it would have been quite a different scene. The attire would have been more casual. A bottle of Wite-Out might have been alongside the other supplies.

More than an hour? Maybe, if there was a hearing at all. Breath mints? Forget about it.

Welcome to Cuyahoga County's boards of revision, version 2.0. Three weeks ago, a reform-driven county government refreshed the way challenges to property valuations are handled.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Prosecutor Bill Mason's family tree plants deep roots in Cuyahoga County government

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The branches of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason's large family tree have blossomed in state and local government.

During Mason's two-decade career in politics, taxpayers have paid his relatives more than $2.2 million in salary, a Plain Dealer review of public payrolls and other records has found.

At least 13 of his family members have received a public job -- several of them more than one -- since Mason began his climb in 1991 by winning a City Council seat in Parma.

The county has hired 10 of those 13 since Mason became prosecutor in 1999. Four are nieces he hired for his own office. A fifth woman, whom Mason hired as a paralegal, was engaged to one of his nephews when she applied but listed no legal training on her resume.

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