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Desmond Franklin's family announces federal civil rights lawsuit after deadly 2020 shooting involving off-duty Cleveland officer

A grand jury previously declined to issue any charges against the officer involved.

CLEVELAND — The family of Desmond Franklin hosted a press conference Monday to discuss the filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit connected to a deadly shooting involving an off-duty Cleveland police officer.

“The investigation that was done in this case, we feel was inadequate," an attorney said. "It didn’t answer all the questions that the family needs to know and the community needs to know. This lawsuit is a vehicle to get to the truth, get to the facts and get justice. ... This lawsuit initially is filed against the officer himself individually for what he did. It’s also possible that we may add the city down the road if we can determine that there were training issues, policy issues, supervisory issues that might have led to this incident.”

The lawsuit comes months after a grand jury had determined that officer Jose Garcia acted in self defense when he shot Franklin back on April 9, 2020.

We streamed the family's press conference, which you can watch in full below: 

Franklin's father, Emanuel, said he won't stop fighting this case until he gets justice.

“This whole case is a nightmare," he said. "We’ve never seen Jose Garcia. I don’t know who he is. He could be standing behind me in the grocery store. He could be behind me at a red light. They told me nothing about this case. All I know is my son was shot in the temple by an off-duty police officer and that was all I know. … My heart has been really destroyed by this because I depended on the police to protect my family, to protect us, to protect our community and we didn’t get that.”

Franklin's father added that he would like to see Garcia behind bars.

“I don’t feel Garcia should be on the street," he said. "I don’t feel like he should be protecting this community. I really feel this man deserves to be in prison.”

Back in February, the family said they did not agree with the findings of the grand jury in the case.

"We believe that there was evidence that was not presented correctly, and there was evidence that was not presented at that grand jury that would’ve assisted the grand jury in making a decision to charge Jose Garcia with murder," an attorney with The Cochran firm said during a press conference back in February. "We are very concerned about that. We believe that is probably the reason that Jose Garcia was not charged. This family is very disappointed. They’ve lost their loved one. We lost a member of our community on April 9.”

Attorney General Dave Yost said that "[Franklin's] death, under the law, is not the result of a criminal act," while calling the incident a tragedy. "We reach no conclusion about civil liability."

The Cleveland Division of Police also declined to issue any disciplinary action against Garcia after an administrative review determined he did not violate the department’s policies, rules or regulations.

Officials say Garcia was driving to work that day when he saw Franklin and an unidentified juvenile stealing a pack of soda from a truck outside a Forestdale Avenue convenient store. Witnesses also 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.

Since Garcia was not acting in any official capacity as a police officer, the investigation was conducted as it would be for any private citizen. Under Ohio law, Ohio prosecutors were required to disprove Garcia's claim that he did not act in self defense, and the grand jury felt they weren't able to do so.


Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published on Feb. 17, 2021.

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