CLEVELAND (WJW)– The FOX 8 I-Team uncovered a chilling secret from last month’s rioting downtown. We’ve confirmed two Cleveland police shotguns were stolen from patrol cars that were burned.
For weeks, the I-Team has been asking about this and now a Cleveland police report just released shows the guns were taken from two patrol cars burned at West 3rd and Lakeside Avenue.
Cell phone video from the street on May 30 shows just as the cars started to burn. You could see a back window smashed out of one cruiser.
The I-Team found the police cars burned directly across the street from a city of Cleveland security camera.We filed a public records request for video from it and the city just released that video.
We see the street camera captured a large crowd in front of the Cuyahoga County Justice Center with police starting to fire pepper spray and smoke to try to break up the crowd. Someone controlling the camera then awkwardly found the burning cars. But it appears the camera did not pick up anyone starting the fires or stealing anything from the patrol cars.
It happened on a day when the downtown streets filled with people for a peaceful protest against police use of force. After, some of the crowd began rioting and looting, which went on for hours.
Now that we’ve brought the stolen guns to light, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeff Follmer said, “It shows the protest was not peaceful.”
Police are never happy when their guns fall into the wrong hands, and especially not when it involves rioters.
“The police guns getting stolen, they’re out there in the community and again, this protest was allegedly supposed to be peaceful,” Follmer said.
Also in the crowd that day was local civil rights attorney Paul Cristallo. He saw the patrol cars on fire shortly after those blazes started.
“It makes me think it’s more dangerous now. People are taking shotguns out of police cars,” Cristallo said. Cristallo added most eyes were on the crowd facing off with police at the doors to the Justice Center.
“Everybody was focused on the Justice Center, what was going on over there. That’s where the tear gas was. That’s where the flash bangs were,” he said.
“Also makes you wonder how were these police cars left with shotguns?”
Police keep shotguns in patrol cars secured so that no one can just grab them.
So far, no arrests for the stolen shotguns.