DOJ Hammers Cleveland Police Department Use of Force

The Department of Justice released a report Dec. 4 detailing its 18-month investigation of the Cleveland Police Department’s use of force.

The Department of Justice released a report Dec. 4 detailing its 18-month investigation of the Cleveland Police Department’s use of force. The report details numerous examples of unnecessary force used by the department. It comes as the nation grapples with a number of police shootings of unarmed black citizens. Among them is 12-year-old Tamir Rice, shot by Cleveland police last month.

“We have determined that structural and systemic deficiencies and practices — including insufficient accountability, inadequate training, ineffective policies and inadequate engagement with the community — contribute to the unreasonable use of force,” the report says.

The DOJ launched the investigation in March 2013 after receiving reports of multiple incidents involving officers in the department.Those incidents included a November 2012 chase in which two unarmed civilians were shot and killed in their car by 13 officers who fired a total of 137 rounds. As a result of the study, the Justice Department will require the department to undergo independent monitoring while it undertakes serious reforms to its community engagement, officer training and accountability efforts.

The report comes just two weeks after Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehman shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice as Rice was playing with a toy gun. Police officials have said the toy Rice was carrying looked just like a real weapon and therefore the officer had no choice but to shoot.

Loehman was asked to leave suburban Independence, Ohio’s police force in 2012, documents show. A supervisor described Loehman as “emotionally immature.”