CLEVELAND, Ohio — The family of the Westlake man shot and killed by a Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Deputy on Interstate 90 has released a statement, saying his behavior Thursday night was “completely out of character.”
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the man as Brett Luengo, 33, of Westlake.
His family’s full statement is:
“While continuing to struggle with his sudden passing on May 24th, the family of Brett Luengo wishes to extend its gratitude to the good Samaritans who stopped to assist Brett subsequent to his automobile accident on the evening of May 24, 2018. Brett’s family would also like to acknowledge the quick response of area police and paramedics. Brett was a beloved son and husband, a successful business executive, and supporter of the arts and his local community. He was articulate, well-spoken, highly intelligent and a loving man who is and will always be sorely missed. The behavior observed on that fateful evening was completely out of character for Brett, and the family has as many questions as everyone else. This incident by no means defines the way in which Brett lived his life, which has sadly come to an untimely end.”
Authorities say it all started when Luengo crashed his car along Interstate 90 East between West Boulevard and West 117th Street Thursday evening.
Multiple witnesses told police they saw his vehicle driving erratically at speeds up to 100 mph before the crash.
Other drivers and witnesses said he went after anyone who stopped to help.
When a Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s deputy pulled up, thinking he was helping an injured driver, the man again became aggressive.
Video shows the man on the ground flailing while ignoring the deputy’s commands before getting up and going after him, still shouting. The deputy repeatedly ordered the man to get on the ground, and used a taser. He fired a shot when the man lunged at him.
An autopsy on Luengo was completed Friday, revealing he was shot once in the chest. Toxicology results will take several weeks.
Friday night, call logs obtained by FOX 8 News revealed news details. According to the logs, Luengo called Westlake police before the incident. On those calls, he told dispatchers he was a drug dealer and was going “to be killed by 3 witches.” He also threatened suicide and officers worried he was having a “psychotic episode.”
The call logs also indicated that Luengo’s parents told an officer their son is suicidal and is possibly homicidal. Luengo’s wife told FOX 8 News that statement was not said. “That is 100 percent false,” she told our Matt Wright.
Officers pinged Luengo’s cell phone and checked with businesses along West 117th trying to find him.
Luengo was reportedly a well-known businessman in Westlake. He and his father owned a company called ConstructAbility, which just last year received the Community Pillar Award from the Northeast Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Westlake City Councilman Michael Killeen told our Stacey Frey that Luengo was married, spoke several languages and played tennis. Killeen also said the behavior Luengo exhibited Thursday was very out of character.
Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough, who officiated Luengo’s wedding and saw him last week, said he was shocked by what happened.
“I couldn’t believe it was him,” Clough said. “It’s very out of character. He was very much involved in the community, and he always gave back to the community. Very smart, intelligent person, it just really doesn’t make sense.”
Luengo helped to establish sister cities for Westlake, including in Ireland, where he traveled with city leaders in 2012. Clough said Luengo also planted a flower box along Hilliard Boulevard in front of City Hall in honor of the sister city.
“He was just a great guy, and it’s a terrible loss, not only for the family but for this community of Westlake and everybody who knew him,” Clough said.
The incident is being investigated by the Cleveland Police Department’s Use of Deadly Force Team.
**Editor’s note: Westlake police corrected their call log to reflect that police did NOT have information that Mr. Luengo had suicidal tendencies before 5/24/18. Westlake police say miscommunication during the quickly evolving incident caused an inaccuracy which has been corrected.