I-TEAM: Cleveland officials admit police made mistakes during downtown riots back in May

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found Cleveland City Hall is now admitting police made mistakes in how they handled the downtown rioting earlier this year.

This comes after a long review and months of complaints from people caught in the middle.

On May 30, a peaceful protest against police use of force erupted into rioting that went on for hours and left millions of dollars in damage.

Now, six months later, Cleveland city leaders admit they could have done more to prevent the violent chaos.

At a briefing for reporters on Thursday afternoon, Safety Director Karrie Howard said, “We recognize that we made mistakes that day and took it as a learning experience going forward.”

Shortly after that weekend, Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams had said they believed police did a good job despite all that happened.

Now, for one thing, the chief admits he could have had officers positioned around downtown to help prevent trouble.

Many businesses haven’t recovered and owners have spoken out repeatedly saying they felt City Hall had failed them. And 911 calls showed citizens saying there were no police officers in sight.

Meantime, months ago, the I-TEAM also exposed the police plan for the day of the protest. We saw nothing in it about preparing for big trouble. Oddly, the plan even referred to a “parade route” and “the celebration experience.”

So, during the briefing Thursday, we asked for an explanation about that.

Chief Williams began his response saying, “What Ed is referring to, and I’d like to know where he got that actual document…”

He went on to explain, the I-TEAM has obtained a draft of a security plan, a draft based on security for a parade.

The chief continued, “That plan went out and folks reviewed it. There was a correction made and then the final plan was actually sent out.”

Chief Williams also said the City is reviewing more than a dozen complaints filed by citizens against officers for what happened in the streets on the day of the riots.

Chelsea Sheets, a local teacher, tells us she filed a complaint after getting shot with a police projectile. She says it happened as she walked away and video captured of that moment shows she was not in the middle of any confrontation with officers.

“I definitely used my rights in the correct way that day and had done nothing wrong. I was just walking back to my car thinking that I was safe,” Sheets said.

“I just want to see that officer held accountable, basically.”

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