CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said an outside agency should takeover -- or at least assist -- the investigation into a deadly shooting last month that led detectives to Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s house.
O’Malley said Tuesday he has complete confidence in Cleveland homicide detectives, but the link between the investigation and the mayor is enough to justify a call for Cleveland police to step aside.
"If there is a potential for conflict, the best practice is to step away, and at minimum, bring in another entity to assist you,” he said. "If we have a situation where this case remains unresolved, there will be a lot of second guessing about whether this was handled appropriately."
O’Malley said that as prosecutor he has frequently called in others to handle cases that present potential conflicts in his office, including to handle cases involving family members of his employees.
“If you have that type of relationship where someone can question whether you are handling something in an impartial or unbiased manner, then the best thing to do is step aside,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams said the department has no plans to relinquish control of the investigation. Jackson’s office offered no comment on O’Malley’s statements.
Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone, who heads Cleveland’s safety committee, first told Channel 3 last week that the police should turn over the investigation to an outside agency.
“It would be my suggestion to avoid any appearance of impropriety that this should be turned over to outside investigative agency other than the police department to follow up and see what ultimately happened,” he said.
Police responded to an Aug. 28 daylight shooting on the city’s West Side that left 30-year-old Antonio Parra dead.
Two sources familiar with the investigation tell Channel 3 that a witness at the scene provided the license plate number of a car racing away -- and that plate is registered to the mayor’s grandson, Frank Q. Jackson.
On the evening of the shooting, police visited Mayor Jackson’s house. That’s where his 22-year-old grandson also lives. Police towed a truck and detained a juvenile for questioning and who was later released to a parent. The police also sought to interview Jackson’s grandson, who did not speak to detectives. Frank Q. Jackson’s attorney said the next morning that he was not involved.
Police departments can ask outside authorities to takeover. But such a request would have to come from Jackson and his police chief.
But today, both the mayor and police chief are rejecting such calls, even from the prosecutor.