EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – New video released to the FOX 8 I-Team sheds new light on the latest indictments filed against East Cleveland police officers.
Just in recent weeks, nine current and former officers have been indicted. Even the chief is one of the officers facing charges.
So, we also went to East Cleveland City Hall to ask how that can happen. Who’s monitoring the police department?
The crimes the officers are accused of committing include stealing money from the city, stealing from suspects, beating suspects and taking bribes.
One officer who was indicted, Von Harris, retired from the department in 2018. He told the I-Team Wednesday he was surprised by the charges.
“I’m innocent,” Harris said. “On the advice of my attorney, I can’t speak more about the case.”
He added he plans to fight the charges.
We tried contacting some of the other officers as well. A few were not home when we knocked, and one officer hung up on us when we reached him by phone.
The new video showed officers captured on body camera after a chase of a suspect and a crash.
Police pulled the man out of the car, and investigators say the officers crossed the line, beating the suspect even after he had his hands raised to surrender.
In fact, the video showed the suspect with his hands raised just before he got pulled out of the car.
At one point, the suspect could be heard saying, “I need to go to the hospital.”
That case happened in April.
Another case went back to March, but some of the charges against officers go back to crimes investigators say took place years ago.
Cuyahoga County prosecutors say they are not discussing specifics of the cases.
The five officers indicted that still work at the department have been placed on unpaid leave.
The I-Team went to the East Cleveland law director and prosecutor to ask how it all got to this point. Those officials had no simple explanation.
But, Law Director Willa Hemmons tells us the East Cleveland Mayor, “has it as his goal and purpose to bring things back under control.”
East Cleveland Prosecutor Heather McCullough said, “You need some guidance from some of your older officers, and we’ve lost that over the years.”
While Cuyahoga County prosecutors are not discussing the specific indictments, they released the following statement:
“Our office receives criminal referrals from over a hundred law enforcement partners. Each investigation is different. Some investigations, such as this one, are larger in scale and evolve which naturally take more time. We present cases and investigations to the grand jury when they are received by this office and are complete.”
East Cleveland has become known for dangerous streets.
Now, the new video and court documents offer a glimpse into why more charges have been filed against some of the people paid to protect those streets.