A dark, dangerous scene came close to turning deadly and it puts a new spotlight on the debate over a gunfire alert system called ShotSpotter.
The video shows police on the southeast side responding to a call for gunshots. Body camera video reveals officers hearing a series of shots as they arrived on the scene.
You hear gunshots fired in the darkness, and you see people coming out of the shadows.
“Get on the ground, show me your hands,” an officer yells.
“Don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me,” a suspect responds.
Meanwhile, another officer spots a woman coming out of some bushes and says, “Come out. Come out. You don’t have nothing on you, do you?”
“Don’t have nothing on me. I was just out here,” the woman answers.
The I-Team requested the video as we take a closer look at calls from the ShotSpotter system. Hi-tech sensors pick up the sound of gunfire and alert police dispatchers.
Cleveland City Council recently voted to spend millions of dollars to expand the system to cover 13 square miles.
Back at the scene, one officer asks a suspect why he had a gun in his hand.
Another officer says to a woman, “You all popping off rounds back here. We don’t know if someone’s shot.”
Civil rights leaders have spoken out against ShotSpotter, saying it can lead to police stopping and arresting innocent people.
But, in this case, officers investigated lots of gunfire in the middle of the night with chaos and danger.
In fact, an officer tells a man being questioned, “You could have been shot.”
Only a small percentage of these ShotSpotter cases actually lead to an arrest. Not long ago, the city sent us 324 pages of records of these calls, but since 2020, an arrest had been made in only 38 of the cases.
Here, police arrested one person they found in the shadows on a warrant for another case.
One person questioned told police, “Bought a gun. Just wanted to check it out.”
An officer then asked him, “Why didn’t you go to a gun range?”
A report shows someone at the scene had just bought a gun, but the report gives no indication police ever determined which person had fired the shots.
Still, the video shows the danger officers faced sorting it out.