CLEVELAND -- The president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association has released a response to the murky, informal comments made by Prosecutor Tim McGinty on Friday.
McGinty hinted that indictments may be coming down against police officers involved in the infamous wild chase that ended with two unarmed suspects dying in a hail of gunfire in November.
Speaking Friday morning to young professionals in the Civic Leader Institute, he answered a question about how his office would handle this case "where the good guys may be the bad guys."
"The buffalo are coming. They may not be stampeding, but they are coming....It is regrettable but lessons are going to be learned," McGinty said.
McGinty said he agreed with Attorney General Mike DeWine's assessment the episode showed police "completely out of control."
Det. Jeffrey Follmer, president of the CPPA, responded with the following statement:
"It is disappointing to discover that the prosecutor has now made inappropriate and unprofessional off the cuff remarks hinting at the filing of some charges. He now joins the ranks of his assistants handling this matter who have made similar inappropriate remarks.
The prosecutors can make their inappropriate sanctimonious remarks and take a year to review their legal options. Our officers did not have that luxury that night a year ago. They responded to a dangerous call and reacted in seconds while their lives were on the line.
For doing their jobs and risking their lives, our officers have faced cruel, ignorant, biased and incendiary remarks uttered by a number of individuals. Sadly, we have come to expect this and are forced to live with it.
We proudly stand with our fellow officers. We were always hopeful that the county prosecutor would agree with the attorney general that there was no criminality on the part of our officers. The prosecutor's unfair and inappropriate remarks today, violating the secrecy of the grand jury and due process, does not alter our faith in a court of law or jury."
Then on Monday, Follmer issued the following letter:
As you know, Prosecutor McGinty, formed a task force to investigate the use of deadly force following the November 29, 2012 police pursuit, comprised of the following members: the State Attorney General's Office, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, the East Cleveland Police Department and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office.
At the conclusion of the investigation, this task force literally went over relevant sections of the Ohio Revised Code and concluded that no crimes were committed.
In addition, Mayor Jackson publically stated that Attorney General DeWine stated to him that he would not file any criminal charges against the officers if he were the County Prosecutor.
Now, after pressure from certain special interests, Prosecutor McGinty, evidently speaking for the Grand Jury, hints that charges will be filed. This is totally contrary to what both he and Prosecutor Bell states previously. It is contrary to the conclusions of the task force members, including the State Attorney General. The facts have not changed since the conclusion of the investigation; the only new factor is the special interest pressure.
The county prosecutor's office has had the case since March, 2013, but has refused to comment publicly, saying he would wait for the investigation by a grand jury. The decision is taking longer than expected, because prosecutor's investigators are doing some of their own tests.
Monday evening, McGinty responded to CPPA's statements and letter.
"Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his task force conducted an extensive investigation, but purposefully came to no conclusion regarding potential criminal charges. As he stated, that job belongs to this office and to the Grand Jury."
"This office has been thoroughly reviewing and reconstructing the events of that night. We have retained outside experts to assist in that continuing effort."
"We want a complete understanding that will serve the interests of justice and avoid unnecessary deaths in the future, either civilian or police. We will follow the evidence wherever it leads. This investigation will not be driven by any special interest groups – including the police union."
Thirteen officers fired 137 shots.
There is no firm deadline for the Grand Jury to act. They had been expected to issue findings earlier this year.
Prosecutor Spokesman Joe Frolik said, "We continue to review and try to understand what happened on that night and what our legal options might be."
McGinty is in a politically difficult position. The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association endorsed him in his run for Prosecutor.