Criminal investigation now opened into upper levels of Cleveland police


CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found a criminal investigation now opened to follow up on explosive claims involving Cleveland police brass.

We’ve confirmed the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department will look into claims officers lied to internal investigators and the man overseeing Internal Affairs changed reports.

The criminal probe grew out of a lawsuit filed by Lt. Paul Baeppler.

He sued bosses and other officers saying he has evidence of years of bogus internal investigations and retaliation against him.

In June, the I-Team revealed video clips filed in court as part of that lawsuit.

In a deposition, Ronald Bakeman, Superintendent over Internal Affairs, admitted he changed reports.

Attorney Craig Bashein asked, “Who got you to change your reports?” Bakeman responded sharply, “Nobody!”

So Bashein followed up with, “You did it on your own?”  Bakeman answered, “I did it on my own.”

Next, Bashein, started to say, “So, your testimony to the court and jury in this case is…” 

And, at that point, Bakeman interrupted with, “I screwed up.”

Bakeman added, “I didn’t change the substance, the specifications, of the report.”

Meantime, e-mails filed show a police administrator writing he would “shred” a version of a report. He recommended a change in a sentence about a high-level supervisor being “intentionally not truthful.”

Lt. Baeppler, a decorated officer. But his lawsuit claims bosses, at one point, assigned him to work alone in a room with orders to have no contact with other officers.

Baeppler later found himself assigned to the midnight shift at the vehicle impound lot.

The video depositions also show a sergeant in Internal Affairs testifying about officers in one matter making claims against Baeppler.

Sgt. Todd Clark said, “They came in, and they lied. I’ll go to my grave with that. They lied.”

A spokesperson for Cuyahoga County confirmed the Sheriff’s Department would look into this for evidence of any crimes. But, the county did not offer any timetable.

For our story in June, we left a message for Ronald Bakeman and we sent a text. But those messages were not returned.

48 hours after that report, city hall announced Bakeman had resigned.

The city has a policy of not commenting on pending lawsuits.  The city has been fighting the civil case with an outside law firm.

The lawsuit has dragged on for years. No telling when the suit might go to trial. It has been tied up in legal actions which have gone all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court.

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