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Gun recovered from car involved in crash with RTA bus in East Cleveland

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Posted at 4:22 PM, Jun 14, 2024

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — News 5 has learned a gun was recovered from a car that was involved in a crash last month with an RTA bus in East Cleveland.

The car ended up striking True and Living God Apostolic Faith Church, destroying the building.

Watch New's 5 original report from May 24 when the pastor and first lady of the church speak about the damage:

Church destroyed after car crashes into RTA bus

According to an East Cleveland Investigative Report, on May 24 officers responded to the area of Euclid Avenue, East of Doan Avenue, for a motor vehicle accident.

The report states a white Infiniti collided with an RTA bus, and the car's owner, Christopher Cotton, was on the scene.

Watch News 5's June 13 report containing RTA surveillance footage of the crash:

NEW VIDEO: Car crashes into RTA bus before slamming into church in East Cleveland

The report states Cotton's passenger, his girlfriend, was "leaning up against a telephone pole, with a severe laceration to the upper left front portion of her forehead."

In the report, officer James Covell said while rendering aid, another officer approached him "holding an unloaded AR-15 pistol, and an empty magazine". Covell said the other officer advised him that "the firearm was the property of Cotton, and asked me what to do with it."

The report states Covell took the gun and magazine and "secured it in the trunk locker" of a patrol vehicle, and he returned to the injured female and continued to render aid.

East Cleveland's Acting Police Chief Kenneth Lundy said Covell didn't log the gun and magazine as evidence.

Lundy said the incident of not logging the evidence has been sent to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office for review, which will help determine the police department's next steps.

The report states the gun and magazine were later entered into evidence and secured in the detective bureau.

News 5 previously reported that Cotton once worked for the City of East Cleveland as a telecommunications officer but resigned about two months prior to the crash.

Cotton is charged with aggravated vehicular assault and vehicular assault and bonded out of jail. As of Friday afternoon, a court date hasn't been scheduled.

Cotton, his girlfriend and a passenger on the bus were injured.

Friday, Lundy added that Covell was recently demoted from his corporal position to a patrolman for an unrelated incident on April 30, 2024. Lundy said security cameras captured Covell around 3:30 a.m. "escorting a female through the City Jail."

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