CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Fox 8 I-Team has found overgrown trees and heavy brush crawling all over vehicles involved in serious crimes. That was found at a Cleveland Police lot.
So, the I-Team wondered about how it got that way and what it could mean for justice.
The I-Team investigated after sending SkyFOX HD and Drone FOX over an impound lot on Bradley Road. We saw many cars and trucks under trees and weeds.
But, again, we didn’t fly over a junkyard. Instead, every car and truck there is connected to a murder, sex assault, robbery, deadly crash or some kind of case like that.
So, we went to civil rights attorney Subodh Chandra. The I-Team asked what concerns that situation should raise for the general public.
Chandra said, “If the vehicles that are being held by the City are vital evidence, it could potentially be very serious for the City to not properly maintain that evidence.”
In a garage on the property, investigators collect evidence from vehicles. But, those vehicles might sit there until a case is solved or heard in court.
Attorney Chandra added, “When the City is responsible for preserving evidence, then, the City ought to preserve that evidence in an appropriate manner.”
Chandra went on to say that even if police collect evidence, defense attorneys may want to collect their own evidence from those vehicles, later. And, if they’re tangled up in trees and weeds, evidence could be contaminated.
In 2021, police caught a man breaking into cars on that lot. He came in through a hole in the fence. And, even now, you can barely see no trespassing signs due to the overgrown trees.
More than one officer also has told us, it’s not unusual to find animals living in cars on that lot. So, we contacted the Mayor’s Office, which said the City is taking steps to clean up and fix up that property.
In an e-mail, a spokesperson wrote, “The City of Cleveland, Division of Police is aware of challenging conditions that exist at Impound Lot #2 and is currently working with respective city departments to address those issues. In addition, the Division of Police is working with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office to address the number of vehicles housed at the lot and the length of time that the vehicles are stored there. Finally, the city is exploring the opportunity to transition to an online vehicle auction protocol. The online option could significantly reduce the number of vehicles that are maintained at the city’s vehicle impound lots (overcrowding).”
The City says work planned at the garage and lot includes:
- Repairs to the roof and gutters that are hanging
- Perimeter fence replacement
- Vegetation clearing surrounding the Lot as well as the entrance from Bradley Road
- Heating system/duct system repairs
- Erosion control
We shared our video with City Council Public Safety Chairman Michael Polensek. He reacted by saying, “This is basic stuff. We gotta get back to basics. That’s my message to the Administration.”
And, Police Union President Jeff Follmer said, “If it’s that bad now, somebody better get on it because court cases could depend on it.”
The City did not provide a timetable for making the improvements. But, the I-Team will check back on it.