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Cleveland Police Officer Shane Bartek's death ruled 'in the line of duty'

Interim Police Chief Wayne Drummond is joined by Mayor Justin Bibb and Interim Safety Director Karrie Howard to announce a decision on Officer Bartek's death. [City of Cleveland]
Cleveland Interim Police Chief Wayne Drummond (center). Behind him: Mayor Justin Bibb (left) and Interim Safety Director Karrie Howard (right)

The Cleveland Police Department will classify the New Year’s Eve killing of Officer Shane Bartek as a “line of duty” death.

Bartek’s family will be eligible for additional benefits based on the classification. Department policy also has several requirements for line of duty deaths, including a police motorcade at his funeral and flags flown at half-staff at city buildings for ten days after the funeral.

Bartek was not working when he was killed outside an apartment building on Cleveland’s West Side.

Interim Police Chief Wayne Drummond said Wednesday the decision to declare his death "in the line of duty" was made after reviewing video of Bartek’s death and speaking with Bartek’s academy trainer.

“We observed Officer Bartek utilized training that he received in our police academy to try to disarm the suspect,” Drummond said. “Our conclusion in the review was that it was a line-of-duty death.”

Shortly after Bartek’s death, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, which represents Cleveland police rank-and-file, raised objections to what they said were the city’s plans to classify it as an off-duty death.

A police spokesperson said the department hadn’t made that determination. Interim Safety Director Karrie Howard repeated that Wednesday’s decision was not a reversal by the city.

“I asked Chief Drummond to conduct a review to make a line of duty determination, to convene a committee to review the facts, law, policies, procedures and training that Officer Bartek received as part of being a Cleveland police officer,” Howard said. “Prior to this review, no determination had been made.”

Two people have been arrested and charged in Bartek’s death. One was allegedly driving his car shortly after the shooting, the other is accused of shooting the 25-year-old officer in the back twice during an attempted carjacking.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.