CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team obtained body camera video showing an incident that led to an East Cleveland police commander resigning and being indicted.
The body camera shows then-Commander Larry McDonald Jr. attempting to stop a vehicle on a traffic violation around 12:30 a.m. March 12 on Ivanhoe Road.
The suspect took off and McDonald chased him for a few minutes. The pursuit went into Cleveland. McDonald can then be heard on the body camera video laughing and saying “I knew he was going to do that.”
According to an East Cleveland Internal Affairs report and Cuyahoga County prosecutors, the vehicle McDonald was pursuing crashed into a bus stop near the intersection of Ivanhoe Road and St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland.
McDonald did not stop, and did not notify anyone of the chase or the crash. He drove back to East Cleveland and went to a lounge on Euclid Avenue.
While inside the lounge, he talks to a woman for a few minutes and then walks outside. A few minutes later, he gets inside his cruiser and a woman gets inside the vehicle in the front passenger seat. The conversation becomes intimate and is recorded on his body camera.
“You are about to block my hand or something,” McDonald said. The woman replies no. He then says, “I seen a dude trying to get you in there.”
A few minutes later, McDonald receives a call from an East Cleveland officer advising him that Cleveland police are calling about a chase involving an East Cleveland officer.
“Now what did they say,” McDonald asked the officer.
“They said that an East Cleveland cop chased them down the street and almost ran him off the road and watched the car crash and turned around,” the officer told him.
McDonald said he did not see the crash.
McDonald resigned the same day East Cleveland Police Chief Brian Gerhard recommended he be “separated from employment” with the police department.
“Commander McDonald’s actions captured on video not only bring discredit to himself as a commanding officer of the police department patrol division, it brings discredit to the police department and The City of East Cleveland,” Gerhard wrote on a memo sent to Mayor Brandon King.
McDonald was also indicted Tuesday on several charges, including tampering with evidence, failure to stop after an accident, telecommunications fraud, obstructing official business and dereliction of duty.
Prosecutors also said East Cleveland Police Sgt. Anthony Holmes knew that Cleveland police had begun an investigation into the crash but withheld knowledge of McDonald’s involvement in the pursuit.
Holmes was indicted on counts of tampering with evidence, telecommunications fraud, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and dereliction of duty.
County prosecutors in March announced new public corruption charges and civil rights violations against 11 current and former East Cleveland officers. Another five officers, including the former police chief, had been previously indicted amid an ongoing investigation into the department.