CLEVELAND — Cleveland Safety Director Karrie Howard reported Officer Harvey Andrekovic was terminated and Patrol Officer Jason Rees issued an 8-day suspension for failing to file a police report and make an arrest in a 2020 crash incident.
Howard told News 5 the discipline was issued on Jan. 6 after officers Andrekovic and Rees failed to take a report and arrest Megan Turner, after she plowed her vehicle into two other cars on East 149 Street in retaliation for a domestic violence incident that happened earlier in the day.
Howard said Turner was allowed the leave the scene of the crash and then return six hours later with a group of men, who then were responsible for the shooting death of Joseph Owens who had nothing to do with the crash or the domestic arguments.
Howard pointed to police body camera video of the Aug. 22, 2020 crash scene that he said shows Andrekovic failing to pursue Turner and ask crucial questions Howard believes should have led to Turner's arrest. In the police body camera video Howard said Andrekovic could be heard saying "I’m not chasing her, I’m not chasing her, If she doesn’t want us, she doesn’t want us.”
“Should she have been arrested? I believe she should have been arrested. Would that have stopped the homicide? I don’t know," Howard said. "The officer should have done everything he could to engage her to ask her some questions to get some facts. Absolutely unacceptable for the officer to say I’m not going to chase her.”
Howard told News 5 Turner was later arrested and convicted of involuntary manslaughter and discharge of a firearm near a prohibited premisses in connection with the fatal shooting of Owens, and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Both Andrekovic, 47, and Rees, 33, were charged with dereliction of duty, obstruction of official Business and a civil rights violation in connection with the incident, but the charges were later dismissed in Cleveland Municipal Court.
Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association President Jeff Follmer told News 5 he disagrees with the punishment that was handed out by the city and said the police union will fight to get the discipline issued to both officers overturned in arbitration.
"It’s a chaotic situation that these officers went to, it was during COVID, there was a lot going on, they did the best that they could," Follmer said. “It’s the wrong decision, we’re short officers, they could have retrained or do something with him, they didn’t have to terminate him. It’s wrong, we’re going to arbitrate it and we’re look for ward to arbitrating this.”
Follmer said arbitration for both officers is going to take three to six months to complete.
Meanwhile, Howard backed-up the cities disciplinary action against both officers.
“The citizens of Cleveland deserve a division of police that is going to do their jobs constitutionally, ethically and diligently," Howard said. "If you don’t do your job there should be consequences.”