CLEVELAND — Following heavy criticism as to why Mayor Frank G. Jackson's grandson was not originally charged with an alleged brutal assault on his girlfriend that occurred almost three months ago, the Cleveland Prosecutor's Office issued a stern defense of itself Friday while blaming police officers for the delay.
Criminal Division Chief Karrie D. Howard of the city law department denied Mayor Jackson had intervened in the investigation of Frank Q. Jackson, saying the office "does not receive, and has not received, any influence or interference by anyone in the Mayor’s Office on this or any other case." The 22-year-old Jackson was only charged Wednesday by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, and could face decades in prison if convicted.
Cuyahoga Metro Housing Authority police handled the initial investigation into the younger Jackson, who is accused of striking the 18-year-old victim multiple times (including with a metal piece of a truck) back on June 10. Howard is now claiming a CMHA detective "failed to provide ALL the evidence related to this matter," and that's why charges were not initially filed.
"When facts and evidence are withheld, such as the video released yesterday, an educated and informed decision cannot be made," Howard said. "Being a prosecutor is tough and is made tougher when facts and evidence are withheld or not properly presented."
CMHA officials say they "are aware of the statement and we are reviewing the facts." Reports from the department collected immediately after the incident detailed graphically detailed the alleged assault, and claim city prosecutor's did not pursue the matter because the victim did not wish to press charges.
Meanwhile, there have been claims Mayor Jackson "negotiated" the terms of his grandson surrendering to authorities on the assault charges. U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott says that is not true and the 22-year-old was not given special privileges.
"Absolutely not," Elliot told WKYC. "I know because I was there and I made the call personally to the mayor. "It would be no different from any other situation when there's news cameras around."
Elliott says they try to keep the element of surprise when arresting someone and with news cameras surrounding the mayor's house that was lost. Deputy safety was a concern.
"At the end of the day, I believe we made the right decision all the way around," he says. "Here we had an individual that was said to be violent or there's a violent warrant that has been issued, felonious assault and so on, so in our minds anything could happen at any time"
Speaking with WKYC's Mark Naymik earlier this week, Mayor Jackson denied he had intervened in any way regarding the investigation into his grandson, and described the issues surrounding members of his family (including a murder investigation that led police to his own house) as personal matters.
"If there are things I need to discuss with family, that's between me and my family," he said. "How I feel is how and how I think is not a public record."
You can read Howard's entire statement below:
"The City of Cleveland Prosecutor’s Office reviews numerous misdemeanor and felony offenses on a daily, weekly and monthly basis for charging decisions. The Assistant Prosecutors in the office take this responsibility seriously. Every charging decision is made based on the facts and evidence presented to an Assistant Prosecutor by a presenting law enforcement official. The City Prosecutor’s Office does not receive, and has not received, any influence or interference by anyone in the Mayor’s Office on this or any other case. The Law Director is responsible for this office, but does not interfere with charging decisions, and did not do so in this case. The Law Department and the citizens of Cleveland rely on the experience and knowledge of its prosecuting attorneys to weigh and consider the evidence presented when making charging decisions. Assistant Prosecutors, like Aric Kinast who is a fine and upstanding professional who has served the citizens of Cleveland for 19 years, take their jobs very seriously. It is now clear that the matter at issue in the media was presented by a CMHA detective who failed to provide ALL the evidence related to this matter. When facts and evidence are withheld, such as the video released yesterday, an educated and informed decision cannot be made. Being a prosecutor is tough and is made tougher when facts and evidence are withheld or not properly presented. The City Prosecutor’s Office will continue honorably serving the citizens of Cleveland."