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Cleveland mayor apologizes, says police driver 'exhibited bad judgement' after crash Downtown

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb speaks at a lectern
Nick Castele
Ideastream Public Media
A spokesperson for the city said Mayor Justin Bibb, his driver, who is a Cleveland police officer, and the other party involved in the crash were "fine.'

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb on Tuesday issued an apology for the "inconvenience or harm caused" when a city vehicle he was riding in was involved in a crash in Downtown Cleveland on June 13.

In the statement, Bibb said that nobody is above the law and that he takes full responsibility for the actions of his staff.

"The officer on my security detail exhibited bad judgement in the moment, and his actions are not something I condone," Bibb wrote. "I apologize for the inconvenience or harm caused, and I will ensure the appropriate measures are taken to prevent such an incident in the future."

The plainclothes police officer driving the mayor when his city vehicle was involved in the crash may not have followed proper policy, according to Police Chief Annie Todd.

The mayor's vehicle, traveling west on Superior Avenue, slowed as it approached a red light at East 12th Street, then the lights were activated and it proceeded against the red light into the intersection, according to video aired by WOIO Channel 19.

"At the time, the mayor’s driver was engaged in emergency response driving. Preliminary information indicates that the lights were activated outside of the emergency response driving policy," the chief said in a statement.

"The Division of Police is currently investigating the incident and is conducting an internal review of potential policy violations," her statement read. Discipline for violating policy ranges from a verbal warning to a three-day suspension.

The mayor, his driver, and the other party involved in the crash were "fine," said city spokesperson Sarah Johnson in a statement. The mayor and his driver were taken by ambulance to the hospital as a precaution, Johnson said.

The crash incident report, which Ideastream Public Media requested in a public records request, was not available as of Tuesday afternoon.
"The report will be completed, internally approved, and then submitted to the State for review," the spokesperson noted. "Once that is completed it will be available to the public."

The spokesperson did not say where the mayor was going nor why his driver was engaged in "emergency response driving" just prior to the crash.
As of Tuesday, the city had not released Bibb's calendar, which Ideastream also requested.

Updated: June 14, 2024 at 12:13 PM EDT
This story has been updated to add a statement by the Cleveland Police chief and again to include a comment from the mayor.
Stephanie is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.