I-TEAM: New video and 911 calls show chaos, concern during riots in downtown Cleveland

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has obtained new video and 911 calls showing how citizens became desperate wondering where the police were as rioters took over downtown.

The footage released to the I-TEAM comes from RTA cameras along Euclid Avenue.

It gives us another look at how crowds last month moved into the heart of downtown to begin rioting and looting.

Meantime, we’ve found 911 calls from citizens saying, “All of the  Euclid and 9th retail, Heinen’s, Geiger’s is all currently being looted, and there’s not a single cop.”

“Its been going on a half hour, not a cop in sight,” said another caller.

Dispatchers told callers help was on the way, but the video reveals long periods without any officers in the area. Finally, long after the trouble started, the video showed one team of officers moving in to start taking back the streets.

Some people called 911 a second and third time to ask when they’d see police.

“I was calling to see if you’re able to tell me if police are on scene or they’re on their way,” asked a man.

A dispatcher responded, “I mean, police are on the way everywhere.”

Trouble went on for hours after violence erupted during a protest for George Floyd.

Then you could hear dispatchers ask callers if they saw any weapons. The citizens gave answers similar to how one woman described it. She said, “Baseball bat. Rocks.”

Earlier, the I-TEAM reported the police plan for handling the protest. That plan showed police brass did not count on big trouble even though problems had exploded at similar rallies around the country.

Cleveland Police say the chief has not finished his review of what happened here and how it was handled. The Chief and the Mayor have both repeatedly said publicly they thought the city did a good job controlling the uprising.

But the new video and the frantic calls show many business people and citizens caught in the middle feeling forgotten and hopeless.

Dispatchers did their best during the tense time to give callers some reassurance. One said, “We have officers everywhere. We’re doing the best we can.”

Ultimately, police arrested more than 100 people for the trouble that weekend on charges tied to rioting, looting, arson, and breaking curfew. Those cases are just beginning to move through the courts.

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