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No charges in 2021 Cleveland police shooting of 25-year-old Innes Lee

Still image from Officer Daniel Piper's body camera showing a gun in the hand of Innes Lee, who died after being shot by Piper on April 15, 2021. [Ohio Attorney General]
Cleveland police body cam image of Innes Lee holding a gun in the backyard where he was shot by Officer Daniel Piper

A Cuyahoga County grand jury has declined to charge Cleveland police officer Daniel Piper for the shooting death of Innes Lee, a 25-year-old Black man from Cleveland.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office announced the results of the investigation and released the file on Friday.

“The most important piece of evidence was the body cam footage,” said Anthony Pierson, a lawyer with the AG’s office.

That footage was released the same day as the shooting on April 15, 2021, by Cleveland Division of Police, though the video with sound was not released until Friday.

During a press conference Friday, Pierson broke down the details of the brief foot chase and shooting captured on Piper’s camera. It shows the officer beginning to chase Lee behind a house on Cleveland’s East Side.

When Lee reaches a 6-foot-fence in the backyard, he stops and can be seen trying to take something out of his pants. Piper’s gun is drawn and raised, and he can be heard repeatedly telling Lee not to take out whatever he is reaching for.

Piper continues to approach Lee, who can be seen holding a handgun and beginning to raise it while facing Piper.

The officer fired four shots and killed Lee.

Lee’s death was the second shooting by a law enforcement officer in Cleveland in a 24-hour period. A day earlier, an undercover officer with the Drug Enforcement Administration shot a 20-year-old man in the Hough neighborhood.

The man survived, but authorities have not released the results of any investigation into that incident.

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