CLEVELAND — One week after Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police officers responded to an apartment complex where they shot and killed a man who attacked them and grabbed one of their guns, several videos from the officers’ body-worn cameras were released as Cleveland Police investigate the incident.
The body camera, which was worn by a CMHA patrol officer, shows him and a sergeant responding to an apartment on East 98th Street at about 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 2, after neighbors reported a 42-year-old man, later identified as Desmond Eskridge, was throwing furniture from his seventh-floor balcony.
When police arrive at the apartment complex, debris and trash can be seen littering the ground in front of the apartment building.
Speaking to a neighbor who can’t be heard on camera, the officer responds, “Looks like it, but we can’t prove it, I just want to sit here and at least wait and see if the party throws something else out. Because we can’t prove it.”
The sergeant notes that the windows of a seventh-floor apartment are busted out, and there is broken glass on the ground below. The sergeant remarks that he wants to see where the broken glass is coming from.
“I’m agreeing with you, but I just want to see – because we can’t – we have to witness it,” the officer says. "But I’m still going to generate a damage to property report.”
“Probably got to go for a crisis,” the sergeant says.
Sergeant: “Because if he’s in there trashing the unit, we still need to make entry to check it out.”
Officer: “We can do that.”
The officer and sergeant put on their gloves, radio in their report, and make their way up to the seventh floor.
Once they arrive at Eskridge’s unit, the officer knocks several times, then immediately opens the unlocked door. He announces, “Police department,” then proceeds into the apartment.
News 5 spoke to CMHA police officials Thursday; they say could enter the apartment because of probable cause.
Upon peering into the bathroom, the officer says, “Oh my god, he’s got the tub filled over.”
Eskridge, who is nude, then emerges from the overflowing bathtub and walks towards the officer while saying, “We got a problem?” several times. Eskridge and the officer then grapple with each other, and a struggle involving all three men ensues.
“He’s got my gun!” the officer yells. “He’s biting me!”
Both men try to restrain Eskridge. While blurred by police, body camera video appears to show Eskridge clamped down on the officer’s finger while the sergeant holds him from behind.
Eskridge then breaks away from the sergeant, appears to fire a shot with the officer’s gun, then spins around and begins aiming the gun at the sergeant.
The sergeant uses his Taser in an attempt to subdue Eskridge while the officer appears to grab Eskridge’s arms to keep him from aiming the gun at the sergeant.
As Eskridge turns and begins to move toward the officer, a shot can be heard; it appears the sergeant shot Eskridge. Eskridge turns around, then tackles the sergeant to the ground.
“Shoot him!” the officer yells as the sergeant and Eskridge wrestle on the ground. “Give me your gun!”
The officer then takes the sergeant’s gun from his hand and fires a shot at Eskridge point-blank.
Eskridge goes limp, and the officer radios for backup.
The officer cuffs Eskridge while the sergeant that was on the ground gets up and begins performing CPR on him.
Additional CMHA officers arrive and whisk the two officers out of the apartment.
Eskridge, who police confirm was shot twice by the officers, later died at the hospital.
CMHA Police Chief Andy Gonzalez said CMHA police had previous dealings with Eskridge but wouldn't elaborate until the investigation into the shooting progresses.
The chief also would not name the officers involved in the shooting but described both as veteran officers.
CMHA police received body cameras two months ago.
Earlier today, Cleveland Police officials spoke in a livestream on their Facebook page about the CMHA incident and a separate officer-involved shooting in Maple Heights on May 30. Officials, in a move reminiscent of the Jackson administration's low transparency, did not allow for questions from the reporters or the public.
In their statements, Cleveland Police announced a special prosecutor will guide their investigation into the shooting, eventually presenting the case to a grand jury to determine if the officers followed the law.
As part of the investigation, Cleveland Police will obtain two special prosecutors to review the cases. One has already been chosen from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and the other prosecutor is still pending.
“Those two prosecutors will oversee this entire investigation and they will be the ones who will take this to the grand jury,” said Ali Pillow, the commander of Cleveland Police’s Bureau of Special Investigations.
He added that while the body-worn camera video is an important piece of the investigation, it is only part, and the medical examiner’s office is conducting tests on several pieces of physical and biological evidence.
“What I'd like to press — to impart to the public, is that these investigations do take time,” Pillow said. You'll see the [wearable camera system] video, but…in order for this to be a thorough and complete investigation, we need to put everything together. So bear with us.”
Interim Police Chief Wayne Drummond said that CMHA police are fully cooperating with investigators and spoke about how difficult these incidents are for the officers and the families of those involved.
“It's important to understand that these are very traumatic incidents for the officers involved,” Drummond said. “These officers were doing their jobs in these particular situations. So it's very traumatic for the officers. But also it's important to understand that we have families that are adversely impacted as well. So our hearts go out to the families as well and also for the officers involved in these particular incidents.”
The attorney representing the CMHA sergeant involved in the shooting believes the video shows heroic actions from the officers and the sergeant.
“These are exactly the type of officers I would want not only protecting CMHA and the housing units, but if they were my coworker or colleague, protecting me,” said Adam Chaloupka with the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
RELATED: CMHA officers shoot, kill man at building on East 98th Street, police say
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.
You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.