CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson released a nearly eight-minute video Thursday morning, addressing the situation involving a criminal investigation surrounding his grandson.
“Neither I or anyone associated with me interfered in any investigation or determining any charges in regards to any member of my family,” Mayor Jackson declared in his opening statement. “You can choose to believe the media, or you can believe me. That is your choice.”
What follows in the mayor’s video, which was posted on YouTube from the city of Cleveland, is a Q&A session with Mayor Jackson addressing multiple questions. The questions come from somebody who never appears on camera, simply identified by Mayor Jackson as a "media person."
We’ve transcribed that entire interview for you below.
Question 1: Is additional oversight needed?
Mayor Jackson: When my grandson was charged with offenses and arrested on other occasions, this issue of whether or not you needed oversight did not come up. The question to me is, why would it come up now? I didn’t interfere in the process then, I didn’t interfere in it now. If it was good for then, why would it not be good for now?
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Question 2: Do you believe it’s an issue now due to the severity of the charges?
Mayor Jackson: I don’t know about that. I know that if you’re asking the basic question as to whether or not anybody who is related to the mayor or related to the chief of staff or related to the director of any department or maybe related to a police officer or related to a waste collected, where are you going with this in terms of that? The process is what it is. I will say to you that only becomes valid if there is some interference in that process. That did not happen before, and it was not brought up, and it didn’t happen this time.
Question 3: Do the charges and who is involved warrant external review beyond the city prosecutor’s office?
Mayor Jackson: Take for instance your assertion because this is a special circumstance. It should’ve been a review. That implies that the city prosecutor’s office knew that the case had been brought to them. Since I have not inquired, that makes that an assumption. I don’t know if that assumption is correct or not. I do know that when these kind of things happen, there is an integrity of the people involved as to what they do, and they have not in the past – and neither in this instance – violated that integrity or that ethics. But I know what your basic question is. Should everything be reviewed if it involves the mayor’s family? Well, should it be reviewed if it involves anybody who has any kind of authority. We have a process that we have in place, and that process is a valid and legitimate process that is not interfered with.
Question 4: Were officers involved ever asked to turn off their body cameras?
Mayor Jackson: I’ve never told anybody to turn off their camera.
Question 5: Have you ever asked police to handle cases involving your family differently?
Mayor Jackson: Officers should’ve handled the case according to what is proper protocol in their investigation as they do any case. So I had no need to give instruction because they handled the case according to what is proper as an investigatory process. So, no I don’t give instructions. I don’t interfere, if that’s the question. I don’t interfere in investigations. I don’t interfere in determining whether or not someone gets charged or not. I don’t interfere. And have not interfered. And will not interfere. Haven’t done it in the past, have not done it now and will not do it in the future. It just doesn’t happen.
Question 6: Do you anticipate this level of scrutiny when your family is involved?
Mayor Jackson: When it comes to these kinds of things that then involve family and the expectation is that I would do as a politician sometimes do – attempt to use their family as a way to address their political concerns at that moment – I’m not going to do that. People can take the hit. They can throw the punches, whatever they want. I will take those hits because I’m not gonna use my family in that way. People can say what they want. I have no concern about that. If what the expectation is of me is to in some kind of way use my family as a shield or to use some platform, some media platform to explain myself to them that will involve my family, I’m not gonna do that. So they just have to do what they’re going to do. If that’s part of the job, it’s part of the job.
Question 7: What do you want people to know about this recent incident?
Mayor Jackson: I want to say publicly that the mayor did not interfere with the investigation or determine whether or not any member of his family would be charged. The mayor did not tell anyone to turn off or turn on a camera. The mayor has in no way, and neither has any of his staff, interfere in any of these things that have occurred. I would not allow it for them, and I do not do that myself.