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Cleveland moves ahead with discipline for sergeant in 2022 open carry arrest

Antoine Tolbert, in glasses and a headband, being arrested by a Cleveland police officer whose face is blurred.
Cleveland Division of Police
Antoine Tolbert was arrested May 23, 2022, after a tense encounter with Cleveland police.

Nearly nine months after the Civilian Police Review Board recommended discipline against a Cleveland police sergeant for the unlawful stop and arrest of a man openly carrying firearms on the city’s East Side, the disciplinary process appears to be moving ahead.

The city’s public safety director called in Sgt. Lance Henderson for a disciplinary hearing on Nov. 3, records show.

Henderson faced four charges, including unlawful stop and unlawful arrest — both group-III-level charges which carry at least a 10-day suspension and up to termination — and failure to complete use of force and stop forms plus an unlawful tow of Tolbert’s vehicle — both lesser group-I-level charges.

The hearing stems from a 2022 incident when Henderson arrested Antoine Tolbert for openly carrying firearms.

Henderson can be heard on body cam footage saying Tolbert should be arrested before he arrived at the scene. The patrol officers who initially responded to 911 calls did not arrest him.

There is nothing in Ohio law that prohibits a person from openly carrying a firearm as long as they are not threatening others.

Henderson initially sought to charge Tolbert with inducing panic and improperly handling a firearm, which only applies inside a motor vehicle.

According to the Office of Professional Standards investigation, Henderson later changed the charge to carrying a concealed weapon after officers at the jail refused to book Tolbert on the inducing panic charge.

All charges were eventually dropped.

In February, the Civilian Police Review Board, a nine-member board that oversees the city's Office of Professional Standards and can recommend police discipline or policy changes, unanimously recommended discipline.

“You just can’t have an officer willfully arresting somebody, that’s not legal, then going so far as to tow their car, then not filling out proper reports,” said board member Billy Sharp in February.

The OPS investigation also found that Henderson reviewed security camera footage at a Family Dollar near Tolbert’s arrest where there was a shooting earlier that day after he learned he was under investigation by OPS.

According to OPS investigator Art Bowker, Henderson was attempting to make the case to investigators that Tolbert was a suspect in the Family Dollar shooting and that’s why he was arrested.

But Henderson never mentioned the Family Dollar shooting prior to arriving or while at the scene where Tolbert was arrested.

Officials have not yet said what, if any, disciplinary action the city may have taken against Henderson.

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