CLEVELAND — The federal monitor overseeing Cleveland police reform efforts is stepping down, 3News Investigates has learned through multiple sources.
Hassan Aden formally announced his resignation on Thursday and U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver accepted it during a hearing on Friday. An interim monitor is expected to be named by Monday. The process for finding a permanent replacement is due to Judge Oliver by November 7.
The move comes weeks after the city’s consent decree with the Department of Justice was extended another two years.
Aden was tabbed as monitor in 2019, replacing Matthew Barge, who was the first monitor when the consent decree was formalized in 2015.
Aden did not immediately respond for comment.
His tenure has been marked with slow, high-cost progress, internal strife and prior calls for his resignation.
The past year has been exceptionally taxing as Aden’s critics seized on his effort in 2021 to remove his deputy monitor and more recent criticism of the internal investigation of a police chase that ended in the death of 13-year-old Tamia Chappman.
Now, the deputy monitor, law professor Ayesha Hardaway, who Aden once accused of anti-police bias, becomes the frontrunner to replace him. Aden served as deputy monitor before ascending to the top post.
Hardaway was attending to a personal family matter on Wednesday and was unavailable to comment.
Hardaway’s selection would take the Case Western Reserve University law professor full circle after Aden pushed for her removal last year based on claims she was a critic of law enforcement.
Community outrage over her dismissal was swift and effective and Hardaway remained as deputy.
At the time, Aden had issued a statement citing a social media post by Hardaway shortly after a Minneapolis jury convicted Derek Chauvin of killing George Floyd.
She referenced Columbus teenager Ma’Khia Bryant, who was wielding a knife at a woman when she was shot and killed by an officer.
“Too many of y’all are super quick to voice your uninformed opinions justifying the Columbus police officers’ actions that killed young Miss Bryant. Y’all are as trigger happy as some of these people with badges. Please don’t quit your day jobs,” Hardaway tweeted.
Aden released a statement saying her comments raised potential claims of anti-police bias and conflict of interest.
“Ayesha’s primary role on the monitoring team was to neutrally assess the city’s compliance with the requirements of the consent decree and to advise me on her determinations,” Aden wrote. “Her statements to the media and on social media give reason for people to question her objectivity -- they also project a notion of preconceived bias. If left unaddressed, the objectivity and credibility of the entire monitoring team and the court process would be in question.”
Hardaway’s departure was met with widespread public support for her from the local NAACP and Black Lives Matter Cleveland, who protested outside Cleveland City Hall. Aden eventually relented and reinstated Hardaway.