CLEVELAND (WJW)-- The FOX 8 I-Team is getting to the bottom of picture of three guys striking a pose on a Cleveland police car.
The photo is sparking outrage all over social media and our questions have led to a police investigation. At first glance, it looks like one man has a gun.
The I-Team started looking into this after the photo on a crime watch social media page generated comments like, "unreal," "Thug life I guess" and, "How can this be OK…"
“Shows no respect. It shows a bunch of young kids doing whatever. When we grew up, we grew up respecting the law," said Jeff Follmer, Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association president.
The I-Team went to the scene: a parking lot behind a city maintenance garage. There, you’ll find rows of police cars out of service and waiting for repairs. We even found the car in the photo.
On Monday, we sent that picture to the police chief’s office.
"The Cleveland Division of Police Intelligence Unit is aware of the photo you’ve forwarded and the matter is under review," a spokesperson said in an email on Tuesday.
“The object held by the male…is not a police-issued firearm," Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia said.
The I-Team caught up with the photographer, who goes by the nickname Bolo.
“It wasn’t any type of gun, or nothing was stolen, or nothing like that," he said. He said the long, black object one man is holding is a piece of camera equipment. He said the guys had been shooting rap videos nearby and they simply stopped in that parking lot on the spur of the moment.
We asked if he could understand how some people would get upset by the picture.
“I can, yeah," he said. “We shot video around there, and then we decided to take a group picture. The doors were already unlocked, so…”
The I-Team checked doors of the police cars and other city cars in the parking lot, and found most of them locked. But we also found a couple of cars with doors unlocked, including one with a police computer and other equipment inside.
Police said the car doors there are expected to be locked. However, the locks on the car in the photo no longer worked because of a crash. Police add, regardless, no one can use their cars in pictures or videos without permission.
“No foul play. You know, a harmless music video," Bolo said.
“You can’t just do whatever you want to police property," Follmer said.
Anyone passing by can get into that lot since it is not fenced in or closed off. Two months ago, that lot was also the scene of an incident with the bomb squad. Investigators found what they first thought was a radio-controlled explosive device.