CLEVELAND — *EDITOR'S NOTE: The video in the player above is from a previous story
A Cleveland police officer who shot and killed Desmond Franklin while off duty will not face discipline for his actions, the city announced late Thursday afternoon.
An administrative review determined Officer Jose Garcia "did not violate any Cleveland Division of Police policies, rules or regulations" when he fired at the 22-year-old Franklin more than a year ago. The Ohio Attorney General also conducted a criminal investigation into Garcia, but a Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to file charges this past February.
Officials say Garcia was driving to work on April 9, 2020, when he saw Franklin and an unidentified juvenile stealing a pack of soda from a truck outside a Forestdale Avenue convenient store. Following a "verbal exchange," Franklin asked for his gun (which the juvenile confirmed) before Garcia drove away, but eventually Franklin turned around and followed the officer down Pearl Road.
Witnesses told authorities Franklin cut in front of traffic in order to draw his car parallel with Garcia's, and Garcia claims he subsequently "stared down the barrel" of Franklin's firearm before firing his own weapon five times at Franklin, killing him instantly. While Franklin's loaded gun was later found inside his vehicle, no one could definitively corroborate Garcia's account that it was pointed at him.
Franklin's death occurred not long before that of George Floyd, a Black man whose killing ignited a firestorm of protests across the country and ended up getting Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin convicted of murder. Unlike the Chauvin case, jurors felt they could not prove Garcia didn't act in self defense when he shot Franklin.
Attorneys for Franklin's family vehemently disputed the grand jury's interpretation of events following its ruling three months ago, specifically claiming Franklin never brandished a gun during his encounter with Garcia. They also noted how neither Franklin nor the juvenile with him fired any gunshots at Garcia, something prosecutors did not dispute.
At some point, you have to say to yourself with all those things being a factor: 'How does Jose Garcia walk away without being charged with murder?'" a lawyer with The Cochran firm said during a February press conference.
Garcia, 29, has been with the Cleveland police force since 2015 and currently works in the second district.