I-Team: Officers Under Investigation After Responding to Call

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CLEVELAND — Two Cleveland police officers could be in trouble for failing to follow a supervisor’s order not to respond to a call for help from an off-duty officer working bar security.

Fox 8 I-Team Reporter Peggy Sinkovich has learned an internal investigation is underway for the two officers who ignored their sergeant’s orders on March 30 and responded to a warehouse district bar.  An off-duty officer had requested help due to a large crowd forming at the bar on West Ninth Street.

“Whenever an officer asks for help, we should go,” said Jeff Follmer, president of the police union.  He believes the two officers acted appropriately and should not face any type of disciplinary charges.

According to police reports, the sergeant told the two-man car to stay on West Sixth because he had other officers responding to the scene.  The two officers, however, went to the bar and stayed until they felt the scene was under control.

The one officer wrote in a memo to his supervisor, which was sent to the Fox 8 News I-Team, that he felt his actions were justified.

“I deeply fear the day where it becomes an acceptable practice to order officers not to respond to an officer needing assistance and are chastised for doing so,” the memo states. “Lastly, in correlation to the antagonistic behavior for performing my duties as a police officer, I consider this to no longer be an acceptable working environment conducive to what I believe the Division of Police stands for.”

It is not known how long the internal investigation will take.

This internal investigation comes two months after Cleveland police officers were criticized by the state Attorney General’s Office for failing to follow policy during the Nov. 29 police chase and police-involved shooting.  Two suspects, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, were killed.

The Attorney General’s Office has publicly released its criminal investigation and forwarded it to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office for review.  Sources say the investigation is pending and may soon be presented to a grand jury for an investigation.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland police department is conducting an internal review of the chase.  Union officials say all the officers involved in the chase have given statements to internal affairs.

It is not known when the investigation will be completed.

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