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Cleveland Disciplines Officers in Separate Incidents

Safety Director Michael McGrath, Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams address reporters at a news conference. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
Safety Director Michael McGrath, Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams address reporters at a news conference.

The city of Cleveland has disciplined five officers in two separate incidents, one involving the death of Tanisha Anderson and another involving uninvestigated sex crimes cases.

Safety Director Michael McGrath suspended a police officer for not calling EMS quickly enough to assist Anderson, who died after a mental health crisis in 2014. Another officer received a written warning. Two police supervisors were demoted and another was suspended over the sex crimes cases.

Tanisha Anderson Investigation

McGrath suspended Officer Scott Aldridge for 10 days without pay and gave a written warning to Officer Bryan Myers.

Both officers responded to 911 calls from the family of 37-year-old Anderson. She became unresponsive as officers tried to get her into a patrol car to take her to a hospital. A family lawsuit, now settled, accuses police of throwing her to the ground.

“It was a really, just a sad incident, it really is,” McGrath said. “It was a very difficult process all the way through.”

A grand jury declined to bring charges against the officers.

Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Jeff Follmer defended the officers, pointing to an investigation by the state attorney general’s office.

“Unfortunately, in the attorney general’s report, she had mental illness, they found she had heart problems,” Follmer said. “I don’t know where this twists and goes back to the police officer to be blamed for these things.”

Follmer said the union plans to file grievances.

Sex Crimes Cases

McGrath demoted Sgt. Tom Ross to patrol officer, accusing him of failing to investigate 60 sex crimes cases from 2014.

Commander James McPike was demoted to captain. A disciplinary letter said McPike allowed Ross to take the unfinished cases with him to a new assignment outside the sex crimes unit.

Sgt. Anthony McMahan received a 15-day suspension. He’s accused of not reporting what happened.

In a news conference, Police Chief Calvin Williams said those cases have been reassigned and most have been investigated.

“We’re auditing everything with our investigative units, all the cases,” Williams said. “There is no quote unquote ‘backlog.’ There’s always cases that are still in the process of being investigated in all of our units.”

Capt. Brian Betley, the head of the local Fraternal Order of Police, said at least one, if not two, of the supervisors plan to file grievances.

“I could assure you that all three of the supervisors involved in this had good intentions to at least get those cases completed, and what have you,” Betley said in an interview. “There was no malicious intentions by any of them, and that should be considered, too, when handing out the discipline.”

He said he expects staffing to come up during the grievance process.

“We’ve had staffing problems throughout the years, and not just recently,” he said. “It’s been an ongoing problem with the Cleveland Division of Police through decades.”

Williams said staffing is always an issue, especially for the specialized units. But in this case, he said, “there were things that happened that had nothing to do with staffing.”

Mayor Frank Jackson said the city is working to hire more police.

“We’re bringing on additional police officers,” Jackson said. “And as we do that, then that will give the chief the flexibility of assigning people.”

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.