Judge OK's New Cleveland Police Policy that Expressly Prohibits Racial Profiling

By Eric Heisig, Cleveland Plain Dealer (Mar. 26, 2018)

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A federal judge on Friday signed an order approving a new bias-free policing policy that must be adhered to by all city of Cleveland's police officers.

The move is the latest in a series of reforms the city agreed to in a 2015 consent decree designed to end what the Justice Department said was a longstanding pattern of unconstitutional policing at nearly every level of the department's ranks.

The Justice Department's investigation into the police department didn't set out to examine racial bias on the part of officers. But its 2014 report that summarized its findings says that "when we interviewed members of the community about their experiences with the police, many African-Americans reported that they believe (Cleveland Division of Police) officers are verbally and physically aggressive toward them because of their race."

The union that represents the city's rank-and-file officers has long denied that it racially profiles while patrolling.

The monitoring team recommended to U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. in February that he approve the new policy. Oliver took that action on Friday, immediately ordering it into effect.

The new policy demands that police officers patrol without bias and says they must treat people they encounter with respect. It also says officers must make their decisions based on reasonable suspicion and probable cause, without discriminating based on demographic.

The policy also states that officers must use "procedural justice," which means they must give people a chance to be heard when approached. They must make decisions fairly, clearly explain them and convey "goodwill and trustworthiness," according to the policy.

Officers are also forbidden from engaging in or ignoring policing with bias, using harassing or derogatory language concerning any demographic or determining suspicion or probable cause based only on a person's criminal record.

The police department started drafting the policy in April 2016. It underwent multiple revisions after the department received feedback from the monitoring team and the Justice Department. A draft circulated for public comment last year.

James Hardiman, president of the Cleveland NAACP, said the new policy is "long overdue."

"It's a step in the right direction, but only a step," Hardiman said. "The ultimate test is how it's implemented, if officers take it seriously."

Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, said he can't remember a single instance where an officer has been disciplined for racial profiling.

"Police officers do their job day in and day out," he said. "It's not based on race. It's based on victims, bad guys and good guys."


250 Cops Being Hired In Cleveland

By Chris Mosby, Cleveland Patch (Mar. 19, 2018)

CLEVELAND, OH — The Cleveland Police Department is looking to bring in some new faces. A lot of new faces, actually.

The department took to social media to announce that it would be hiring 250 police officers in 2018. To apply for a position, click here.

It's worth noting that the Cleveland Police department is still under a consent decree and has is being monitored in its behavior. Officers have new use-of-force policies to follow and different training to undertake.

The Monitoring Team filed a report on the department's progress in late January 2018. The city's police department has multiple areas where they have been found to be only in "partial compliance" with the team's policies. There are also a handful of areas where the department has been found to be non-compliant.


Federal Judge Approves Plan for Next Phase of Seattle Police Reforms

As part of a consent decree, the Seattle Police Department must demonstrate over the next two years that it is maintaining reforms to address allegations of excessive force and biased policing.

By Steve Militech, Seattle Times (Mar. 13, 2018) 

U.S. District Judge James Robart on Tuesday approved the city of Seattle’s plan to submit a series of reports to show whether federally mandated police reforms are locked in place, with an ultimate goal of terminating a court-ordered agreement by 2020.

Robart asked for the plan as part of his January ruling finding the city in full compliance with the main terms of a 2012 consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department.

As part of the consent decree, the Seattle Police Department must demonstrate over the next two years that it is maintaining reforms to address allegations of excessive force and biased policing.

Under the plan, the city will take the lead role in carrying out the “critical self-analysis,” although the Justice Department and the court’s monitor, Merrick Bobb, will scrutinize the progress. The Justice Department and monitor concurred with the plan, labeling it a joint approach that resulted from extensive discussions.

The city will submit seven quarterly reports to the court beginning in July, with the hope of including a joint motion to terminate the consent decree with its final filing in January 2020.

While the city’s proposal is designed to pinpoint concerns so they can be quickly fixed, the timeline could change if “significant shortcomings” are identified, according to a city memorandum submitted to Robart.

“The City recognizes that, ultimately, it is more important to get this right than to simply get this done,” the memorandum says.

Under the plan, the Police Department’s Audit, Policy & Research Section will conduct audits, paying particular attention to concerns flagged by the monitor and the court during the first phase.

The reports would be designed not only to sustain compliance, but to “drive reform beyond the requirements of the Decree and after federal oversight has ended,” according to the memorandum.

The city also will provide updates on protracted contract negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild to ensure any agreement with the union, which represents sergeants and officers, “falls within the boundaries” of the consent decree, the memorandum says.


New Cleveland Police Policy Designed to Protect the Mentally Ill

By Eric Heisig, Cleveland Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- When the city of Cleveland set out to create a new crisis intervention policy that governs how police officers handle encounters with the mentally ill, it wasn't explicitly because of Tanisha Anderson, but rather a pattern of similar incidents.

The 37-year-old's death while handcuffed by police in front of a family member's home during a November 2014 mental health episode came less than a month before the Justice Department issued a blistering report highlighting decades of unconstitutional policing and use-of-force abuses within the ranks of the Cleveland police.

"Officers too often use unreasonable force against individuals with mental illness, individuals in medical crisis and individuals with impaired faculties," according to a 58-page letter from the Justice Department addressed to Mayor Frank Jackson.

The Justice Department's criticisms of how the police handled encounters involving the mentally ill included incidents that had many of the hallmarks that led to Anderson's death. In the three years that passed since she died, the city agreed to a court-enforced reform agreement with the Justice Department and has taken steps to retrain how every officer within the department's ranks is supposed to deal with people in the throes of a mental-health crisis.

The city implemented new policies for all officers as of January, after nearly all city police officers were trained during 2017. It outlines specific steps officers must take when dealing with the mentally ill when responding to a call for help.

David Malik, an attorney representing the Anderson family, says he thinks the new policy potentially eliminates "brain freeze" in officers responding to someone in crisis.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury, after hearing evidence presented by the Ohio Attorney General's Office, declined to issue charges Fridayagainst officers Scott Aldridge and Bryan Myers, who responded to a call for help with Anderson.

Anderson suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and was suffering from a breakdown when her family called police to its home on Ansel Road. She died after Aldridge and Myers cuffed her hands behind her back and placed her in the back of a police car following a struggle.

What happened next is disputed. Family said one of the officers engaged a take-down move on Anderson and put a knee on her back. The officers told investigators that Anderson struggled and wiggled her way out of the car and onto the ground, and that she kicked at the officers before she lost consciousness.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office said Anderson died from a "sudden death associated with physical restraint in a prone position" and ruled her death a homicide. Her heart disease and bipolar disorder were considered factors that increased her chance of sudden death, the office said.

However, that ruling and cause were not presented to the grand jury, as the Medical Examiner's Office relied on material later deemed improper to make its findings.

Whether or not either officer used force, the city's new policy contains specific steps for officers to use when responding to a call involving people in crisis.

They includes: assessing risk to officers and others, requesting emergency medical services if required and treating each case as unique.

If a friend or family member can provide information to help, seek it out, the new policy states.

Most importantly, officers should take steps to calm the situation if possible. An officer should try to establish a rapport and speak slowly and calmly. They should ask questions instead of stating orders and show empathy, among other steps.

Officers should show patience and move slowly, trying to wait out a person as long as possible. Force should only be used when necessary and proportional to the threat the subject poses.

However, it is OK to use handcuffs if an officer finds it reasonable, even if it's just to take the person to a hospital. However, if a person is lying down after an officer used force or the person was handcuffed, he or she should be moved to a seated position to prevent asphyxiation.

There are other aspects that deal with steering people in crisis toward the help they need and not to a jail cell.

While all officers were required to undergo eight hours of training on the new policy, the city is still forming a team and training protocol for a specialized team to deal with calls involving crisis intervention.

The monitoring team said in a filing last week that the new policy "has been recognized as a national model of crisis intervention."

Malik called the new policy "potentially a win-win."

"And it's obviously long overdue, but the good news is that the initial steps they have taken to make changes and that's very encouraging," Malik said. "I think that deaths will be prevented."


Cleveland Makes Progress on Use-of-Force, Crisis Training

By Matthew Richmond, WKSU.com (Jan. 24, 2018)

The federal monitoring team overseeing the police consent decree in Cleveland released its fourth progress report today.

The city’s accomplishments include training for all officers on new use-of-force and crisis intervention policies. And the city is close to completing its new bias-free policing policies. But the backlog of civilian complaints may have actually grown since the last time the Cleveland officials appeared in court. 

According to the monitor, there are about 380 open civilian complaint cases against Cleveland police officers. The monitor’s office has found more since the last hearing in U.S. District Court because the city’s Office of Professional Standards incorrectly closed an unknown number of cases.

Judge Solomon Oliver told the city during a November hearing that more intrusive measures might be needed if the backlog isn’t cleared. Cleveland officials said at this hearing that the process for handling cases is being overhauled. A new administrator is being sought, outside investigators will be hired and progress should be made within six months.


Seattle Times: A Laudable Victory Toward Police Reform

More work remains, but Seattle reached an important milestone this week when its police department was found to have substantially reformed and ended unconstitutional and excessively forceful practices.

Seattle Times Editorial Board (Jan. 12, 2018)

Seattle crossed an important threshold this week when a federal judge determined that its police department was greatly improved and in compliance with its 2012 consent decree.

This offers Seattle a fresh start, just as its new mayor begins the process of hiring a new police chief. With the cloud of federal oversight clearing, Mayor Jenny Durkan, who played a role in pushing the reforms as a U.S. attorney, remains strongly committed to reforms. She now will have a better chance of attracting the best candidates.

Most important, Seattle’s progress proves that reforms and training to reduce police use of force are effective and don’t compromise public safety.

Seattle is the latest and largest city to reach compliance with Obama-era consent decrees in 15 cities across the country. The positive outcome sends a strong message to a Trump administration that appears less inclined to confront troubled police departments.

Seattle police aren’t completely in the clear. Federal oversight will continue for two years to ensure reforms are sustained and that a list of remaining concerns is addressed.

Those concerns are significant. They include assurance that tragic incidents such as the shooting death of Charleena Lyles aren’t indicative of any systemic problems with use-of-force during crisis intervention.

The city and police officers’ union must also agree to a contract that incorporates the reforms, without the public having to pay extra for constitutional policing.

These are surmountable problems, especially now that core issues are largely addressed and a strong foundation of training is in place.

Statistics cited by U.S. District Judge James Robart, in his finding of initial compliance, quantify the improvement.

Over a two-year study period from 2015 to 2017, overall use of force decreased 11 percent. Compared to the 2009-2011 period preceding the consent decree, the use of higher-level, serious force fell 60 percent. Yet crime rates remained essentially flat.

Police were dispatched to 760,000 incidents during the study period. They used force just under 2,400 times, or less than 0.5 percent, and 80 percent of those involved low-level force.

Having reached this milestone, Seattle and its police can proceed in a more normal fashion. Changes can be made to the department for their own sake and evaluated on their own merits, not through the lens of the decree.

“The training wheels are off,” Durkan said.

The to-do list must include public concerns about safety and civility downtown and property crime in neighborhoods. Plans to hire 200 additional officers and increase community-oriented “beat” cops should help.

Local accountability should also improve. City officials can no longer use the cost and distraction of the consent decree as excuses for performance issues.

The ruling validates the work of advocacy groups, particularly the American Civil Liberties Union, that rightly called for a civil-rights investigation into the department’s treatment of minorities and misuse of force nearly a decade ago.

That prompted a Department of Justice investigation in 2011, back when that agency had its priorities straight. It found Seattle police engaged in a pattern of violating constitutional rights by using excessive force, attributed in part to weak oversight within the department.

After sparring with then-Mayor Mike McGinn, the DOJ and city reached the consent decree in 2012. It mandated reforms and federal oversight to ensure their completion. As U.S. attorney in Seattle at the time, Durkan negotiated the agreement for the DOJ.

All members of the community should be reassured that Durkan is now mayor and invested in maintaining compliance and the higher performance that it represents.

Judge Robart also deserves kudos for his firm and persistent oversight.

Credit is also now due to police department employees at all levels. They worked hard to transform the force into a model of constitutional policing.

Still, disproportionate treatment by law-enforcement across the United States remains a critical problem. Police in Seattle and elsewhere must continue building trust throughout their communities, and every department must modernize its use-of-force training and policies.

But this milestone and the efforts of all involved should be appreciated.

In Seattle and beyond, this demonstrates that unconstitutional policing and excessive force can be addressed with reforms and training, without compromising public safety and law enforcement.


Seattle Police Found in 'Full and Effective Compliance' With Court-Ordered Reforms

The ruling represents a momentous turning point for the police department, recognizing its efforts to address allegations that officers used excessive force and displayed troubling evidence of biased policing.

By Steve Miletich and Mike Carter, Seattle Times

In a landmark ruling, U.S. District Judge James Robart on Wednesday found the Seattle Police Department in “full and effective compliance” with court-ordered reforms imposed on the city more than five years ago after a string of high-profile incidents involving use of force.

The city will enter into a two-year review period in which it must show the sweeping reforms are locked in place and address a list of issues Robart laid out in his 16-page ruling.

“Fulfilling Phase I is an enormous milestone and one in which the City and SPD should take pride,” Robart wrote. “Nevertheless, the court cautions the City and SPD that this does not mean their work is done. In many ways, Phase II is the most difficult portion of the Consent Decree to fulfill.

Timeline of Seattle police reform

Key dates in the U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the Seattle Police Department and the resulting court-ordered reforms.

“The ability to sustain the good work that has begun is not a foregone conclusion,” the judge added. “It will require dedication, hard work, creativity, flexibility, vigilance, endurance, and continued development and refinement of policies and procedures in accordance with constitutional principles.”

Mayor Jenny Durkan agreed, saying “the next two years are going to be critical” to continuing the work. She noted during a Wednesday afternoon news conference that the city’s work is not done — “and we know we’re not done.”

But, for the moment, the ruling represents a major turning point for the Police Department, recognizing its accomplishments since the city entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department in July 2012 to address allegations that officers had engaged in a “pattern or practice” of using excessive force and displayed troubling evidence of biased policing.

“This is a very significant and good day for the city of Seattle, for the Police Department and for the community,” Durkan said, flanked by the department’s brass and city leaders.

Robart, who has overseen the consent decree, granted a motion, filed by the city in September, asking that it be found in full compliance with the agreement. The Justice Department and Community Police Commission, a citizen body created as part of the consent decree, had joined in the city’s request.

The department began to move toward compliance under the leadership of former Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, an ex-Boston police commissioner who was hired by the city in June 2014 at a time the reform effort was foundering. She stepped down Dec. 31, citing mostly personal reasons for her decision.

Interim Police Chief Carmen Best, who has said she wants the permanent job and lauded the work of the department’s employees Wednesday, will inherit the responsibility of maintaining the changes, bolstered by a boost in department morale that is certain to greet Robart’s ruling.

The ruling also clears the path for Durkan — who was the U.S. attorney in Seattle when the Justice Department in 2011 found deficiencies in the Police Department — to push for the continued reforms she has pledged to carry out.

During the news conference, she promised that the next police chief will “continue in this very important process of police reforms.”

“It will be critical we hire someone who can be the leader we need in this community” to champion the reform process, she said.

Years of friction between police and minority communities — many centered on allegations of officers escalating petty situations into confrontations, and then using force to quell them — came to a head in 2010 and 2011 with a series of publicized and controversial incidents, many of which were caught on video.

Included was an officer’s threat to beat the “Mexican piss” out of a prone Latino man.

The public outrage reached a peak on Aug. 30, 2010, when then-Officer Ian Birk shot and killed a First Nations totem carver who was walking downtown carrying a piece of wood and a small folding knife. A dashboard camera in Birk’s patrol car captured the audio of the encounter and revealed that only about four seconds passed between the time Birk issued commands to put down the knife and when he fired the shots that ended the life of John T. Williams.

The shooting proved a catalyst within the communities that had over the years witnessed repeated attempts at police reform falter or fail. This time they responded with a single voice and to a higher authority, the Justice Department.

In December 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, joined by 34 community groups, sent a letter to the Justice Department asking for a formal investigation into the Police Department.

When the Justice Department gave credence to the complaints in a scathing report in December 2011, then-Mayor Mike McGinn and then-Police Chief John Diaz reacted defensively, setting off a tortured, monthslong process that culminated in the consent decree. City Attorney Pete Holmes had warned that McGinn’s strategy had put the city on the verge of a civil-rights lawsuit that could have dire consequences.

The consent decree led to the appointment of a court monitor, Merrick Bobb, whose initial reports to Robart raised concerns about the pace of reform.

But after the election of Mayor Ed Murray, who took office in January 2014, and the hiring of O’Toole, Bobb began issuing increasingly positive report cards.

The most significant finding occurred last April, when Bobb issued a report concluding the department had carried out a dramatic turnaround in the use of force.

Citing data and case samples over a 28-month period, the monitor found overall use of force dropped both across time under the consent decree and when compared with the period that led to the Justice Department’s findings in 2011.

In contrast to the 2011 numbers, there had been what appeared to be a net decrease of 743 incidents — a 60 percent drop — in the use of moderate and high-level use of force. Of 2,385 incidents, 39, or 1.6 percent, stemmed from the most serious type of force, including 15 officer-involved shootings.

Yet Bobb filed court papers in September in which he told Robart the city had not met all of its obligations in the consent decree. Sources not authorized to publicly discuss the matter contended Bobb subsequently softened his position.

Robart, in his decision, makes it clear the city still has significant and difficult work to do in the coming two years.

Particularly, he noted that the city has not yet named a civilian inspector general to oversee police internal investigations, nor has it concluded negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG), which has been working without a contract since 2014.

SPOG has filed two unfair-labor-practices complaints against the city over reforms related to the consent decree, the most recent just last week over police-accountability legislation passed by the City Council.

Robart has warned that he will not allow reforms to be derailed by the union.

“If collective bargaining results in changes to the accountability ordinance that the court deems to be inconsistent with the Consent Degree, the City’s progress in Phase II will be imperiled,” the judge wrote.

SPOG President Kevin Stuckey, who attended the news conference as a spectator, said he looked forward to working with the new city administration to resolve differences.

“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, we do not wish to impede the progress,” Stuckey said, adding that it was critical the city play by the collective-bargaining rules.

Much of the progress on police reform took place under Murray, the former mayor who made the mandate a key campaign issue when he defeated McGinn in the 2013 race for mayor. It was Murray who hired O’Toole, whom Robart singled out in his ruling for her “exceptional work.”

Murray resigned last year amid sex-abuse allegations.

Murray, in an emailed statement Wednesday, offered his thanks to the “women and men of the Seattle Police Department who have created a national model for reform.”

U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes said the achievement was a “milestone” and a “credit to the hard work of SPD and City leadership, engaged community members including the Community Police Commission, and SPD officers whose dedication to the mission is essential to reform.”

In November, Robart asked the city for more information on the Police Department’s finding that the fatal shooting on June 18 of an African-American woman, Charleena Lyles, was reasonable before he decided on the city’s motion.

Lyles, a 30-year-old mother of four, was shot by two white officers, who said they fired after she pulled one or two knives on them while they were investigating a burglary call from her at her Northeast Seattle apartment.

In submitting the finding to Robart, city attorneys argued the conclusions should have no bearing on the motion.

Lyles’ death occurred after Bobb’s assessments, they wrote, noting that if the department was found to be in compliance with the consent decree, it will be required to keep that status during the two-year “sustainment period.”

“If Ms. Lyles’s death or the City’s response to it demonstrate, along with other evidence, that SPD has failed to comply with one or more requirements of the Decree, the court can make that determination on a complete record at that time,” their brief says.

Tim Burgess, the former Seattle City Council member who spearheaded reform and was praised Wednesday by city leaders, issued a statement on Robart’s ruling, saying, “This is such wonderful news. Lots of people deserve credit, especially the officers, detectives and civilian employees of SPD.”


PARC's Matthew Barge Talks to Wichita Eagle about Use of Force Issues

By Tim Potter, Wichita Ealge (Nov. 21, 2017)

When the Barber County undersheriff fired a beanbag that killed an unarmed man, he went against national recommendations for use of the “less lethal” weapon.

According to an attorney’s preliminary investigation on how the shooting unfolded and based on the guidelines, the undersheriff fired the beanbag round too close to the man and hit him in the chest – a part of the body he was supposed to avoid if he meant to avoid a fatal wound.

In interviews, The Eagle has gathered a detailed account of the shooting by the attorney for Kristina Myers, the wife of the man killed, 42-year-old Steven Myers. Lawyer Michael Kuckelman shared notes he took when he was allowed to view and listen to body-camera video and audio from the scene of the Oct. 6 shooting in Sun City, a town of 53 northwest of Medicine Lodge. The recordings come from body cameras worn by a deputy and the sheriff.

Officials have not released the video.

The recordings show Undersheriff Virgil “Dusty” Brewer fired the beanbag round from a shotgun from less than 10 feet into Myers’ chest, Kuckelman said. The round hit just below the left nipple. Kuckelman said he bases the distance on what he saw in the video, what he saw at the scene and what he learned from an eyewitness.

According to guidelines in a 2009 report by Los Angeles-based Police Assessment Resource Center, the beanbag shot was too close and hit the wrong spot if it was intended not to be fatal. The report said that “beanbag rounds present a risk of death or serious physical injury at less than 10 feet when fired at the chest, head, neck, and groin.” The report put the “optimal distance for a beanbag” at between 21 and 50 feet.

Beanbag rounds, designed to be less lethal than normal law enforcement weapons, are not intended for “up-close encounters,” said Matthew Barge, a police practices expert and executive director of the center’s New York City office.

“You want to avoid center mass” when aiming, Barge said Monday.

Law enforcement agencies usually limit the use of a beanbag – a small fabric pillow filled with lead pellets and usually fired from a 12-gauge shotgun – to specially trained officers or supervisors, Barge said. That’s partly because beanbag shotgun use differs from handgun use, in which officers are trained to fire at the “center mass.”

The Barber County Sheriff’s Office has no written policy on beanbag use, Kuckelman said. It’s not clear whether Brewer had training in firing beanbags, he said.

Sheriff Lonnie Small couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

The Wichita Police Department has a seven-page policy on use of less-lethal weapons.

“The body’s upper center mass … should be avoided, unless lethal force is the intent. … At less than 7 yards (21 feet) the risk of serious injury or death is greatly increased,” the policy says.

Beanbags must be used “with the utmost judicious consideration,” it says.

Shooting recordings

According to Kuckelman, 911 received a call at 6:26 p.m. and dispatched the first deputy less than a minute later.

The first deputy on scene, Deputy Mark Suchy, arrived at 7:07 at Buster’s Saloon in Sun City – about 41 minutes after the 911 call about a disturbance involving Myers. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said the caller reported that Myers had been threatening people with a gun outside the bar.

Myers had worked in oil fields and was a ranch hand. He had had been drinking that day at Buster’s, Kuckelman said. Besides being a husband, he was a father of three children, ages 1, 9 and 11.

Myers ended up in a neighbor’s shed down the street from the restaurant and bar. Myers had already put a shotgun away at his home, where the gun was found hours after the shooting during a search, Kuckelman said.

Myers was obeying commands when he was shot, Kuckelman said Monday. “He had just responded to a sheriff’s command to come out the shed.”

Kuckelman has filed a motion in Barber County District Court seeking copies of law enforcement video and audio recordings of the shooting. A hearing on that has been set for Dec. 1.

Last week, the attorney said in a news release: “I have viewed the video, and what I saw was disturbing. Every resident of Kansas should be calling for this video’s release. The video captures an extreme violation of a man’s civil rights and a shocking use of excessive force.”

In interviews with The Eagle, Kuckelman said the audio began with Sheriff Small shouting, “Steven, come out of that shed.” The sheriff, Undersheriff Brewer and Deputy Suchy and a K9 dog were in the kitchen of a small house on Main Street.

Small gave the command through a screen door in the kitchen, toward the shed 15 to 20 feet away, Kuckelman said.


After Myers stepped out of the shed, the sheriff turned with the K9 dog and walked toward the front door – away from Myers.

It doesn’t make sense for the sheriff – as the supervisor – to leave just as the incident is unfolding and reaching a key stage, Kuckelman said. “That’s mind-boggling – you’re in charge,” he said. Also, the dog was being led away when the animal could have been used to help subdue Myers if needed, Kuckelman said.

According to Kuckelman, about eight seconds elapsed as deputies gave inconsistent commands to Myers.

Two people shouted commands: one excited voice saying, “On the ground!” another exclaiming, “Hands up!” Then: “On the ground!” All in quick succession.

“And then the gun goes off,” Kuckelman said. “It all goes very rapidly.”

Right before the shot, the video shows Myers’ left arm extended out in front of him. “He clearly no longer had the shotgun,” Kuckelman said. The other hand, his right, isn’t visible in the video.

No one ever yelled out that Myers had a weapon, he said.

It was toward the end of the day. But the sun still illuminated the back yard, and Myers could be seen clearly and closely by the undersheriff who fired, Kuckelman said.

‘You can’t’ then ‘boom’

Just before Myers suffered the fatal shot, he blurted out. “Damn it … You can’t…”

Deputy Suchy’s body camera didn’t capture the view of Brewer firing the gun. Later, the video shows someone taking the shotgun used to shoot Myers.

When Brewer fired, he had moved from the kitchen to just outside the screen door and was definitely less than 10 feet from Myers, Kuckelman said.

Under a policy like the Wichita Police Department has, Brewer should have realized he was too close to fire a less-lethal shot, the attorney said.

The shotgun went “boom.”

Myers yelled “Ow!” as the blast hit.

He pivoted, collapsed to his hands and knees, then went face down, the video shows.

His blood began pooling on the dirt.

On the ground, Myers didn’t move as Brewer put handcuffs on him.

At that point, the resident said, “God damn, that was a little drastic wasn’t it!”

Brewer rolled Myers, still in handcuffs, onto his back.

“He’s obviously dying,” Kuckelman said. “You can hear the air escaping from his lungs.” Blood covered the front of his T-shirt.

‘Pretty damn close’

The undersheriff left as two relatively new deputies did CPR on Myers, Kuckelman said. One deputy held gauze on the wound while the other did chest compressions.

After the sheriff put the dog in the patrol car, he went to the back yard, were Deputy Suchy told him: “Lonnie, he ain’t got a pulse.”

According to the audio, Suchy said it was difficult to do CPR because the wound was near where he needed to place his hand.

The coroner pronounced Myers dead at the scene at 8:08 p.m.

After the coroner saw the wound, Kuckelman heard him say: “That’s from a beanbag? Straight-on shot. Holy shit. Was pretty damn close.”

Deputy Suchy then noted some of the evidence: “Clear cartridge by the porch.”

During more discussion, an EMT asked whether Myers had a gun and Suchy answered, “No,” Kuckelman said.

According to the Kuckelman’s notes from the audio, as the coroner asked questions, Sheriff Small told Suchy, “Don’t tell him everything.”

About two minutes later, the sheriff told told Suchy to stop recording, Kuckelman said. And the recording ended.


Government Technology Magazine Reports on Cleveland Reforms

The move comes as part of a settlement the city reached with the U.S. Department of Justice. Officials hope to have all 1,400 officers trained on the computer system by the end of the year.

Government Technology (Sep. 28, 2017)

(TNS) -- CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The city of Cleveland on Wednesday announced that it began a gradual roll out of a computer program that allows police officers to file reports with computers from the field.

The field-based reporting program was mandated in a settlement, known as a consent decree, the city reached with the Justice Department to reform the Cleveland police department. The city said in a news release that it has trained 120 officers, and that the goal is to have all 1,400 officers trained on it by the end of the year.

Greg White, the city's consent decree coordinator, said the program will allow officers to file reports from anywhere, be it in a district station or in the field. The city has 357 patrol cars and the city is still in the process of installing computers into all of them, White said. The city will be installing the computers in 35 cars that officers will continue to use, as well as in between 50 and 60 patrol cars the city intends to purchase to replace old cars, White said.


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When asked for an exact number of cars the city is slated to replace, White said he did not know. City spokesman Dan Williams refused to provide an answer when asked Thursday morning.

The news release said the training and use of the computers began in early September. Mayor Frank Jackson's administration did not announce the program until Wednesday, while the mayor is in the midst of a bitter campaign against Councilman Zack Reed for a November general election.

In recent weeks, the mayor has highlighted a series of initiatives he and others say will fight crime in the city, as Reed has made the city's rise in homicides and his criticisms of Jackson's response to them a cornerstone of his campaign against the three-term incumbent.

In a Facebook Live video the city posted to announce the project roll out, city Information Technology Director Larry Jones said a group put together a "communications schedule" as the project came together, which included plans for announcements like the one made Wednesday.

Using computers to type up police reports while on scene has been touted as a way to free up time for officers to spend more time patrolling and interacting with residents. City officers for years have had to go back to their district stations to type up and file reports.

In the Facebook Live video, Jones said "platoon B" -- the officers that work the afternoon shift -- is now training and using the computers. Day shift officers will start training and using the computers next month, and in December the night shift officers will follow, Jones said.

Police Chief Calvin Williams, also featured in the video, said that "now the officers can take that report in the field and actually enter it in the car computer as they're going about their normal day and their other duties."

White also said the new program will allow the chief to track crime statistics throughout the city.

The lack of updated technology for officers to use was one of many issues the Justice Department pointed out in a December 2014 report, which followed an 18-month investigation.

The Justice Department said the city has historically not provided enough money to update the equipment and resources for officers. Ultimately, the city's failure to upgrade its technology contributed to the pattern of officers using excessive force on suspects and residents, the Justice Department wrote.

The city agreed to address its equipment and resource needs in the settlement, known as a consent decree.

The city is required to draft an equipment and resource study and submit it to the monitoring team. However, the monitoring team has consistently sent the city back to re-draft it and said the city has not provided enough details.

Cleveland has historically lagged behind other major cities in the technology it uses to fight crime and support its officers. The monitoring team wrote in a June 2016 court filing that the city "does not yet benefit from many of the basic technological innovations associated with contemporary, urban policing."

In the video, neither Jones nor Williams mention the consent decree, though a quote from the mayor contained in the news release mentions it.

Instead, both Williams and the mayor's office news release said that Issue 32, which increased the municipal tax rate for those who work in the city, helped pay for the new computers. The city has pointed to Issue 32, which raises about $80 million more annually in tax revenue, as giving it the ability to buy new patrol cars and ambulances.

This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of patrol cars in which the city intends to install computer systems.


Cleveland Police Plan to Cut Citizen Complaint Backlog in Half by End of the Year

By Nick Castele, NPR Cleveland (Sep. 7, 2017)

Cleveland police have agreed to cut in half a backlog of citizen complaint cases by the end of the year. The monitor overseeing the city’s consent decree laid out a schedule of deadlines in a federal court filing last week.

The monitoring team in June said that Cleveland is moving too slowly in finishing years-old investigations of complaints against officers.

The city hired more investigators. Now the Office of Professional Standards has a goal: complete all remaining 136 cases from 2014 and 2015 by the end of this year, reducing the backlog by about 50 percent. The office also aims to finish half of the cases filed this year.

The agreement also says investigators will make audio recordings of all interviews with officers, witnesses and those who file complaints.

“We agreed that we would file this with the court to give the judge some idea of what the process was going to look like, and we’ll see going into the end of the year where we’re at,” said Greg White, who manages consent decree compliance for the city. “Hopefully we’ll accomplish what’s in this document and more.”

The city, the monitor and the Justice Department will receive progress reports every other week. 

“While the scope of progress that OPS must make to comply with the Consent Decree is more substantial than the milestones outlined here,” monitor Matthew Barge wrote in the court filing, “the milestones are intended to provide specific, measurable guideposts to assist OPS in meeting existing requirements.”