Family of man killed by off-duty Cleveland police officer talks about grand jury decision not to bring charges

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The family of a man killed by an off-duty officer with the Cleveland Division of Police spoke Wednesday about the grand jury’s decision not to charge the officer.

Officer Jose Garcia, 29, was off-duty when he shot and killed 22-year-old Desmond Franklin on April 9, 2020.

Desmond Franklin

The grand jury returned a “no bill” on the case, meaning they didn’t believe there was evidence that Garcia committed a crime.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Garcia acted in self-defense.

The Cleveland Division of Police said Garcia stopped at a convenience store that afternoon and saw two men, including Franklin “possibly involved in criminal activity.”

Garcia was in plain clothes and driving his personal vehicle.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says there was a verbal exchange between the two parties, and Garcia continued on his way.

According to investigators, Franklin pursued Garcia in his vehicle.

Police say Franklin pointed a gun at him, and Garcia fired.

According to Franklin’s family’s attorneys, Garcia shot multiple times into Desmond’s vehicle. They say ballistics show Franklin did not shoot his weapon.

Franklin crashed into a fence and died at the hospital. He was a father of four.

“When Officer Garcia received the threat, he was driving to work, the same as any other citizen,” said Yost after the grand jury decision. “He reacted in self-defense and the question of whether that self-defense was legally justified falls under the standard that applies to all citizens.”

The City of Cleveland released a statement on the grand jury decision that reads in part:

With the conclusion of the criminal proceedings for Cleveland Police Officer Jose Garcia, the Cleveland Division of Police will conduct an administrative review investigation of the events of the April 9, 2020, officer-involved shooting. The findings of the administrative review investigation will be forwarded to the Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety. If policy violations are found, disciplinary action could range from minor discipline to termination of employment.

Garcia has been with Cleveland police since December 2015.

He is on restricted duty and has been since the incident.

The Franklin family’s attorney Stanley Jackson of the Cochran Firm said they have no confidence in the department’s administrative investigation.

Jackson said they will continue to investigate and look at other avenues including a potential civil suit and potentially asking the Dept. of Justice to investigate.

When asked if he was emotionally prepared for further legal battles Emmanuel Franklin, Desmond’s father said, “No, I’m not ready but I know I have to do it for my son, for my family, for his family, for his children. I have to continue to walk that line with my head held up.”

Jackson added the Cochran firm will continue to support the family.

The firm released this statement in part after the grand jury decision:

The family of Desmond Franklin is incredibly disappointed that a Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to charge the off-duty Cleveland police officer who shot and killed Desmond last April as they drove side-by-side down a crowded street in Cleveland.  

Grand jury hearings are conducted in secret, so the family is unclear about exactly what information was presented by prosecutors.

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