The 10 Most Shocking Facts About Cleveland’s Violent Police Force

Imagine what federal investigations could uncover about your local police force.

It’s been less than two weeks since a Cleveland police officer gunned down 12-year-old Tamir Rice as he was playing with a toy gun in a park. In that time, protests have exploded across the nation over the grand jury decisions in the police brutality cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Cleveland yesterday with another wake-up call about the severity of the police misconduct problem.


Holder was in town to deliver the findings [PDF] from a two-year Department of Justice investigation of the Cleveland Police Department’s use of force. And the results, well, they won’t do much to alleviate the public’s concerns about police. The DOJ found that Cleveland Police “engage in a pattern of excessive use of force,” are “poorly trained” and “reckless,” and that the department “frequently deprives individuals of their constitutional rights.”

Tamir Rice

The DOJ’s investigation was prompted by a horrifying 2012 case of police violence, in which officers from that department and others were involved in a high-speed chase that ended with 137 bullets being fired into the car of a fleeing couple. Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were found dead and unarmed.

Now, the Cleveland Police Department will be forced to operate under a consent decree, with supervision from the feds. Here are some of the more shocking details they uncovered:

1. Officers Pistol Whipped People

Officers were “hitting people in the head with their guns” in other words, pistol whipping them.

2. They Punched People Already in Handcuffs

There were instances where officers punched, pepper sprayed, or otherwise assaulted suspects already in handcuffs. The DOJ found the officers acted violently toward cuffed individuals “as punishment” for mouthing off or disobeying a command before they were restrained “not based on a current threat posed by the person.”

3. The Cleveland Police Used Force Against Mentally Ill People

Officers used force in some cases where they were simply called to do welfare checks on individuals who were mentally ill or going through a crisis.

4. They Fired Weapons Carelessly, Sometimes Threatening Innocent Bystanders

Cleveland police officers accidentally discharged weapons, sometimes shooting and seriously injuring people. They “often” fire their guns, the report found, in ways that threaten innocent bystanders.

5. Officers Habitually “Escalated” Tense Situations

Officers failed to use “de-escalation techniques” and instead often made volatile situations worse, “employing force when it may not be needed and could have been avoided.”

6. Superiors Condoned Inappropriate and Illegal Actions by Officers

Officers were almost never punished for use of excessive force, and internal accountability systems seemed designed to excuse bad behavior. In the past three years, only 51 of the 1,500 Cleveland officers were disciplined for use-of-force issues, and the vast majority of those were related to technical or administrative lapses like improper reporting. Furthermore, misconduct investigations, the DOJ concluded, appeared to be “designed from the outset to justify the officers’ actions.” Some of the officers responsible for leading these types of investigations admitted to DOJ officials that they sought to portray the involved officers as positively as possible.

7. The Police Department Viewed Itself as an “Occupying Force”

The DOJ found police officers have an “us-versus-them” mentality toward the community they serve. For example, officials noticed a sign at one of the stations that said “forward operating base,” a term used in the military to denote bases of operation in a war zone. “This characterization reinforces the view held by some—both inside and outside the Division—that CDP is an occupying force instead of a true partner and resource in the community it serves,” the report concluded.

8. The DOJ Investigated the Department 10 Years Ago and Found Mostly the Same Thing

The DOJ concluded a similar investigation in 2004. The findings were “starkly similar,” but the voluntary reforms taken by the department did not correct the “systemic” problems.

9. The Same Two Men Led the Department as the Last Time DOJ Investigated

As The Plain Dealer newspaper pointed out, frustratingly, the top two men at the police department—Martin Flask and Michael McGrath—were both in leadership positions the last time the DOJ investigated and uncovered major problems.

10. The Officer Who Shot Tamir Rice had a Shaky Employment History

This doesn’t come from the DOJ report, but local media has uncovered that Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot Tamir Rice, had a less than exemplary history at his previous police officer job in a nearby suburb. A personnel file released after the shooting reported he was “distracted and weepy” during firearms training. He also had difficulty following directions, a history of lying, and his superior officers questioned whether he had “the maturity” to perform his job. Cleveland police have said they did not review the file before hiring Loehmann, who had been on the job just six months at the time of the shooting.

Articles
Creative Commons

National Tell a Joke Day dates back to 1944 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was having a meeting with Vice-President, Henry Wallace. The two men were tired and depressed due to the stress caused by leading a country through world war.

During a lull in the meeting, Wallace said, "Frank, to cheer you up I have a joke I'd like to share."

"Let's have it, Henry," Roosevelt replied while ashing his cigarette.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" Wallace asked. "Not sure," Roosevelt replied.

"To get to the other side," Wallace responded.

Roosevelt laughed so hard that the bourbon he was drinking sprayed out of his nose and onto the floor of the oval office.

RELATED: A comedian shuts down a sexist heckler who, ironically, brought his daughters to the show

The joke was so funny, and did such a great job at lightening both their moods, Roosevelt proclaimed that every year, August 16 would be National Tell a Joke Day.

Just kidding.

Nobody knows why National Tell a Joke Day started, but in a world where the President of the United States is trying to buy Greenland, "Beverly Hills, 90210" is back on TV, and the economy is about to go off a cliff, we could all use a bit of levity.

To celebrate National Tell a Joke Day, the people on Twitter responded with hundreds of the corniest dad jokes ever told. Here are some of the best.

Culture

The Judean date palm was once common in ancient Judea. The tree itself was a source of shelter, its fruit was ubiquitous in food, and its likeness was even engraved on money. But the plant became extinct around 500 A.D., and the prevalent palm was no more. But the plant is getting a second chance at life in the new millennium after researchers were able to resurrect ancient seeds.

Two thousand-year-old seeds were discovered inside a pottery jar during an archaeological excavation of Masada, a historic mountain fortress in southern Israel. It is believed the seeds were produced between 155 B.C. and 64 A.D. Those seeds sat inside a researcher's drawer in Tel Aviv for years, not doing anything.

Elaine Solowey, the Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel, wondered if she could revive the Judean Date Palm, so in 2005, she began to experiment. "I assumed the food in the seed would be no good after all that time. How could it be?" Solewey said.

Keep Reading Show less
Science

There's been an uptick in fake emotional support animals (ESAs), which has led some airlines to crack down on which animals can and can't fly. Remember that emotional support peacock?

But some restrictions on ESAs don't fly with the Department of Transportation (DOT), leading them to crack down on the crack down.

Delta says that there has been an 84 percent increase in animal incidents since 2016, thanks in part to the increase of ESAs on airplanes. Last year, Delta airlines banned pit bulls and pit bull-related dog breeds after two airline staff were bitten by the breed while boarding a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo.

"We must err on the side of safety. Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk," Delta told People regarding the new rule.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Liam Beach / Facebook

Trying to get one dog to sit still and make eye contact with a camera for more than half a second is a low-key miracle. Lining up 16 dogs, on steps, and having them all stare at the camera simultaneously is the work of a God-like dog whisperer.

This miracle worker is Liam Beach, a 19-year-old animal management graduate from Cardiff, Wales. A friend of his dared him to attempt the shot and he accepted the challenge.

"My friend Catherine challenged me to try to get all of my lot sat on the stairs for a photo. She said, 'I bet you can't pull it off,' so I thought 'challenge accepted,'" he said, accoriding to Paws Planet.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Americans on both sides of the political aisle can agree on one thing: our infrastructure needs a huge upgrade. While politicians drag their feet on high-speed rail projects, fixing bridges, and building new airports, one amazing project is picking up steam.

The Great American Rail-Trail, a bike path that will connect Washington state to Washington, D.C., is over 50% complete.

The trail is being planned by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit that is working with local governments to make the dream a reality.

Keep Reading Show less
Travel