Cleveland agrees to limit use of police force after shooting

Police department in Cleveland accepts tough standards for police force in historic settlement following days of protests and tension

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Cleveland police department has agreed to take steps to correct a pattern of how and when its officers can use force in a deal with the US Department of Justice, officials said on Tuesday.

The agreement makes Cleveland the first American city to take steps to rein in abusive behavior.

The deal, which requires the approval of a federal judge, lays out rules and changes for departments as police conduct and law enforcement’s use of lethal force against minority groups across the US continues to be cause of racial tensions.

"It will define who we are as a people and who we are as a city," Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson told a news conference.

The city of Cleveland has been shaken recently after a judge acquitted a white city police officer of manslaughter charges after he shot to death two unarmed black people in 2012.

Michael Brelo (31) was charged with the deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell after he fired 15 rounds into their windshield as he was standing on the hood of their car following a police chase.

The verdict on Saturday set off anger and prompted protests that led to at least 71 arrests.

According to the Guardian, the other measures that the settlement mandates are new firearms rules banning warning shots, a civilian monitor inside the police department, better data collection on use-of-force incidents, additional officer training, documentation of all disciplinary decisions, and no neck holds.

The deal came after investigators documented a pattern of harsh and chronic abuse by police officers in a December 2014 report. The incidents often went unreported and uninvestigated, the investigators said.

Just days before the report was released, a Cleveland police officer shot and killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year old boy who was holding a pellet gun, and 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill woman in distress who died after officers tackled her to the ground and handcuffed her.

Last year saw the deaths of unarmed black men during confrontations with police in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, Baltimore and elsewhere, which spawned protests and occasional violent outbursts across the United States.

TRTWorld and agencies