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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