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'Spiteful, petty and punitive' — Words hurled at Cleveland prosecutor after two officers face assault charges

Police union calls for prosecutor's job
Posted at 5:57 PM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-14 10:30:22-05

CLEVELAND — Spiteful, petty and punitive — three words hurled at Cleveland’s city prosecutor after charging two officers with assaulting people in handcuffs.

Those officers, including one current Cleveland officer, went to court today and pleaded not guilty to misdemeanors.

The police union wants the chief prosecutor off the job and one defense attorney calls the move to issue arrest warrants in the cases an abuse of power.

"Totally unconscionable and irresponsible,” defense attorney Henry Hilow said.

The officers' attorneys believe their clients shouldn’t have been in court in the first place.

"This incident stems back to June of '21; this has been vetted by a number of different agencies. For whatever reason, the city of Cleveland saw fit to bring it today via a warrant, not a summons,” defense attorney Kevin Spellacy said.

Officers Dennis Meehan and Kevin Warnock appeared for misdemeanor assault and dereliction of duty charges.

Meehan, who now works for Bratenahl police, is also charged with unlawful restraint.

The city has not released body camera video.

"The victim's arm is behind his back as he's being cuffed. The officer lifts his arm up and you hear the victim do a verbal, 'Ouch, that hurts,' or something to that effect,” said Cleveland’s Chief Prosecutor, Aqueelah Jordan.

Jordan says officers were investigating social media posts with people waving guns when they came across the man.

Jordan says Meehan’s actions were not consistent with police training.

As Meehan puts the man in a cruiser, Jordan says he slams his foot in the door.

In Warnock’s case, Jordan says he slapped a man across the face after the man had been placed in handcuffs and was wounded in the leg from his own gun going off.

"These people go to work every day in the gang unit protecting this community, and there are arrest warrants issued when they're presumed innocent. It's ridiculous,” Hilow said.

Hilow says it strains the resources within the system, and in these cases, the feds cleared both officers.

"Our mayor's promised reform — that's hardly reform. This has been going on and proceeds him taking office here,” Hilow said.

News 5 Investigators asked Jordan why she pursued charges.

"Because there's an assault on the video; there were citizens who were harmed,” Jordan said.

As for why a warrant and not a summons?

“So we do warrants of incidents of physical harm or instances of violence,” Jordan said.

Police union president Jeff Follmer is calling for Jordan’s job.

“You don't get a warrant for guys doing arrests and hard-working — risking their lives taking over 500-600 guns off a year and making city streets safe for her to come in and micromanage,” Follmer said.

Follmer says this shows current officers and potential hires there’s no support.

"We have some officers that do bad but when we do good work out there, we want support if something goes south a little bit and we're within our policies,” Follmer said.

Jordan doesn’t believe it dissuades any candidate.

"I'm not trying to send a message, we're just trying to do the right thing by everyone involved,” Jordan said.

Both officers are out on bond and have a no-contact order.

One attorney says he wants the law director, the mayor and city council to review the practices of the chief prosecutor.

Follmer says they plan to file a complaint against Jordan with the bar association.

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