I-Team: Officers Punished After Investigation

CLEVELAND– Six months off without pay. That is the punishment handed down to two Cleveland city police officers that the Fox 8 I-Team caught on camera last October and November sitting for hours in a parking lot, instead of patrolling.

Our I-Team video shows the officers resting with their feet out the window, and even appearing to urinate during the shift, while they claimed on their duty reports that they were patrolling their beats.

Officials say they believe the officers spent just too much time in the parking lot instead of patrolling and deserve the six months off, but the union disagrees and says they will appeal.

The officers received the punishment following a disciplinary hearing held Tuesday at city hall.

Our investigation started October 31.  We spotted patrol car 341 on three different nights parked in a parking lot off of East 38th Street.

“I think the decision is off the charts crazy,” said Atty. Pat D’Angelo, who represents the officers.  “Punishment should be reasonable.”

Union officials stress the officers, Kevin Freese and Wesley Harris, are good cops that have not been in trouble in the past.  The union says the officers are also apologetic for their actions, and they believe the city is taking too hard of a stance.

“This was basically you are fired, or you take this, and we will evaluate and fight for what is right,” D’Angelo said.

Director of Public Safety Martin Flask, however, says he felt the officers’ conduct merited termination but that they accepted a deal to take the six-month suspension.

“This conduct was such that it was a close call whether or not they should have been terminated but a six-month suspension sends a clear message to them and to other officers who may be engaged in similar conduct that it is inappropriate and there are consequences,” Flask said.

The suspensions started Wednesday.

Read more on the I-Team investigation here