CLEVELAND– The use of deadly force by two Cleveland Metroparks Rangers late last year was justified, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.
Rangers Chelsea McLellan and Kyle Schultz shot and killed 33-year-old Derek Stokes on Dec. 8, 2015. Prosecutors said the rangers arrested Stokes on an outstanding warrant for burglary and possible drug charges at the Cleveland Metroparks Lakefront Reservation.
They were driving the suspect to the Cleveland City Jail when Stokes pulled out a gun and shot McLellen, hitting her bulletproof vest, prosecutors said. McLellen and Schultz returned gunfire, killing Stokes.
“(Mr. Stokes) had fired at Ranger McLellan from close range and continued to shoot at her and at Ranger Schultz. He ignored repeated commands to surrender and continued his efforts to escape, all the while holding a gun,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty wrote in his letter to Chief Ranger Dan Veloski.
“The Rangers had no choice but to return fire. Indeed, their lives and potentially those of others in Cleveland Police Headquarters and beyond depended on ending the threat posed by Mr. Stokes.”
According to prosecutors, Stokes was handcuffed in the cruiser, but got his hands in front of him to pull out the pistol.
“Any officer situated in a similar position, and faced with similar facts, would have acted in a similar fashion to end the deadly threat posed by Mr. Stokes,” McGinty said in a news release on Monday.