Police misconduct prompts conviction dismissal

Posted at 8:47 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 05:19:12-05

The 2013 drug trafficking conviction of Kenneth Blackshaw was overturned Wednesday on the recommendation by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty because of misconduct by the East Cleveland police officers who arrested the defendant. 

According to the prosecutor's office, McGinty and Assistant County Prosecutor Jose Torres moved to vacate the sentence and then to dismiss the case against Blackshaw.

“We have a duty to end the case,” McGinty said in court before Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Clancy. “We have no case. Our officers, our witnesses were in the wrong. Our evidence is unusable, and we seek justice — which is the release of this individual.”

Judge Clancy ordered Blackshaw, who had been returned to Cuyahoga County on Tuesday from the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, to be released. 

Torres leads the Conviction Integrity Unit in the prosecutor's office. The unit reviewed Blackshaw's conviction after federal authorities charged three East Cleveland officers with conspiracy, theft and making false statements.

The prosecutor's office said the review determined that the actions of two of the officers charged, Detectives Antonio Malone and Eric Jones, violated Blackshaw's rights and undermined the credibility of the case. The office said the officers also stole evidence, conducted an illegal search, and altered official reports to conceal their wrongdoing. 

Torres said there was no integrity in the conviction. McGinty agreed and asked for the dismissal. 

Blackshaw, according to the prosecutor's office, entered a guilty plea in 2013 to first-degree drug trafficking and was sentenced to five years in prison. 

McGinty also asked that charges be dropped for two other defendants in cases involving the officers charged. Motions have been filed to overturn the convictions for Hosea Lock and John Wallace.