Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cleveland police release jailhouse video from disputed arrest involving Patrolman Martin Lentz

Written and reported with Gabriel Baird

Cleveland police on Wednesday released a jailhouse surveillance video that contradicts claims that an officer was struck in the face with a suspect's belt.

Police administrators provided a copy to The Plain Dealer, bringing an end to conflicting statements from city officials about whether the video still existed and whether they intended to make the images public.

A police lieutenant, in response to a March subpoena in the subsequent assault case, had told an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor that the footage no longer existed.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Missing video in Cleveland use-of-force case existed all along, but police say it's not a public record

Written and reported with Gabriel Baird

Cleveland police have turned over a potentially damaging surveillance video to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason -- the same video they denied existed when Mason's office sought it more than two months ago.

The video contradicts an officer's claim that he was struck in the face when a Pennsylvania man tossed a belt during a January incident at City Jail, according to a supervisor's report. Both Mason and The Plain Dealer sought the video to gauge the truthfulness of the officer's statement.

But city officials refuse to provide a copy to The Plain Dealer, which has been examining the case for weeks. Legal experts said the video is a public record and should be released.

The newspaper's findings have prompted police and the prosecutor to launch separate criminal investigations into the accusation made by Patrolman Martin Lentz.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath overlooked conflicting statements in use-of-force investigations

Written and reported with Gabriel Baird

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath frequently overlooked conflicting statements and other inconsistencies when reviewing uses of force by officers who now stand accused of brutality, The Plain Dealer has found.

The discrepancies emerged as supervisors under McGrath's command conducted department-required investigations into the use of nondeadly force.

At least twice, superiors ordered sergeants to correct information that didn't make sense, rather than perform a more thorough review or explain mistakes. In one incident, video evidence invalidated an officer's claim but compelled no further scrutiny.

And in all 37 cases the newspaper examined, McGrath or a deputy blessed the use of force.

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