Officer Facing Fallout Over Downed Power Line

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CLEVELAND-- Officer Gary Stiegelmeyer and union officials said very little as they entered the office of Cleveland Public Safety Director Martin Flask Thursday afternoon.

Stiegelmeyer is facing a disciplinary charge for his actions when asked to check on a downed power line in the area of East 130th and Iroquois on November 1.

If Director Flask finds that the officer did violate departmental policy, he could face anywhere from 10 to 30 days off without pay.

Neighbors living near the area had reported the downed wire to 911 officials, hoping to have it blocked off or fixed before someone got hurt, but that didn’t happen.

“What’s the emergency?” a 911 dispatcher asked a caller. “A little girl not electrocuted, she is like 12 years old. She is not breathing.”

911 records state first energy was notified and Officer Stiegelmeyer was sent to the scene.  The officer, however, reported around 9:30 in the morning on November 1 that he only saw a downed phone line.  A few hours later, 12-year-old Gasia Thomas touched the wire and was shocked.

“I called the light company yesterday,” a 911 caller said.

The girl remains hospitalized.  Cleveland Division of Police Integrity Control section reviewed the case after being ordered to do so by Police Chief Michael McGrath.  Union officials did not want to discuss the case at this time.

“I don’t think it is fair to the officer to have media every time there is a disciplinary charge,” said Atty. Pat D’Angelo, who represents the officers.

Thomas’ family has since filed a lawsuit against FirstEnergy, and the city of Cleveland, alleging the lines should have been properly maintained.  FirstEnergy officials have declined to comment since the case is pending.

Meanwhile, the officer is facing a charge of violating orders to remain on the scene until properly relieved.

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