Report sheds new light on May riots downtown, suggests Cleveland police not well-prepared

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — A newly-released report suggests Cleveland police were not well-prepared and did not properly report uses of force after the destructive riots on May 30.

The outside review also looked at how police managed the crowds and protests leading up to the violence.

The riots caused several injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. A peaceful demonstration, protesting the death of George Floyd morphed into chaos later that evening.

Wednesday, a group that monitors how the Cleveland police department complies with a federal consent decree, issued a report about the way the riot was handled.

Among other things, the report found that since riots were breaking out in cities across the country, Cleveland police should have been better prepared for violence.

The federal monitor did not conclude whether specific instances of police force were appropriate, but they did find that “the reporting of force was inadequate and often untimely”, with some officers reporting instances months later.

The report found “a large number of deployed officers did not have body worn video evidence to support their actions.” Police say the body worn cameras cannot be mounted on some tactical gear.

Civil rights attorney Subodh Chandra is troubled by the report.

“What is it that prevented those officers, immediately in the aftermath of the protests, from filling out reports,” Chandra said.

The city of Cleveland submitted an after-action review it conducted, which acknowledged some deficiencies, but concluded officers performed well under the circumstances.

During a virtual hearing in U.S. District Court, police chief Calvin Williams admitted the department was slow in reporting use of force cases from the riot, and says they are working to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.

The chief also said “I don’t think we could have staffed up properly for the riot, unless we knew ahead of time the violence that would be perpetrated on the city and even then we still would not have been able to stop everything that happened that day… this city experienced eight hours of chaos.”

“It shows you the difference between having a federal government that is carefully monitoring and overseeing the Division of Police and the police policing themselves, they’re simply incapable of policing themselves,” said Chandra.

Chief Williams also told the court that the May riot was unique, noting that police managed 28 protests over the following three weeks, and never had to use force.

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