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Cleveland officer could be suspended, retrained for arresting local activist who was open carrying

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Posted at 8:35 PM, Feb 14, 2023

In May 2022, Cleveland activist Antoine Tolbert was openly carrying his shotgun on Cleveland’s East Side.

Tolbert was legally allowed to carry and said he had no intention to harm anyone; instead it’s a way to deter violence, a concept that News 5 has reported on several times. But, this time someone called police on him.

That day he was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon and inducing panic, but the charges were later dropped.

RELATED: Cleveland activist arrested for legally carrying firearm

Cleveland activist arrested for legally carrying firearm

"The entire statute requires the element that a weapon was concealed, Mr. Tolbert never concealed a weapon in any manner whatsoever," said Art Bowker with Cleveland’s Office of Professional Standards.

The Office of Professional Standards presented its investigation of Tolbert’s arrest to the police review board on Tuesday. It found that officer Lance Henderson, the sergeant on scene during Tolbert’s arrest, did not follow proper CPD protocol.

“Mr. Tolbert never threatened; he never pointed his shotgun,” said Bowker. “Sgt. Henderson's explanation that the inducing panic charge was justified is also without merit."

“What happened to me happens to black men every day in America," said Tolbert.

On Tuesday after hearing all the evidence, the CPRB voted to recommend that Henderson receive a 15-day suspension, and that he is retrained on laws relating to openly carrying a firearm.

The recommendation will now go to CPD leadership.

“It was just confirmation of everything that I had experienced,” said Tolbert. “I knew in the moment that it was wrong"

Tolbert has also filed suit against the city for unlawful arrest, he said the city agreed to settle and the case is wrapping up.

“I’m just ready for this chapter to be over with,” said Tolbert. “I’m ready for my name to not be associated with this situation, I just want to focus on doing the work."

Cleveland FOP Lodge 8 President James P. O'Malley issued the following statement regarding the officer.

"The FOP and our legal team has not had an opportunity to fully review the allegations made by OPS since the CRB hearing has just occurred today. We look forward to Sgt. Henderson being able to have his 'day in court' so to speak at his pre-disciplinary hearing to be able to directly answer the accusations made by OPS."

RELATED: 'It’s all of our responsibility,' Activist files suit for unlawful arrest after open carrying a firearm

Activist files suit against for unlawful arrest after open carrying a firearm

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