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Two more East Cleveland police officers indicted, activists call for wider investigations

east cleveland police.jpg
Matthew Richmond
/
Ideastream Public Media
East Cleveland police currently have an interim chief because the permanent chief is facing theft charges. Several other officers are currently facing similar charges.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office announced the indictment of two East Cleveland police officers Friday.

The charges are against officers Willie Sims and Alfonzo Cole are for theft of money, drugs and guns while on duty and occurred between July 2020 and July 2021.

Both Sims and Cole were arrested in July of last year, but weren’t indicted until Friday.

According to the prosecutor’s office, both officers allegedly stole money or drugs or guns from people they had pulled over or during calls for service.

Following the last incident included in the indictment, which occurred on July 8 or 9, 2021, the alleged victim reported the theft of about $4,000 to the East Cleveland Police Department. The department forwarded the report to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and Sims and Cole were arrested.

Sims and Cole are scheduled to make their first appearances in court in October.

These aren’t the only recent incidents involving East Cleveland police.

Four other East Cleveland officers were indicted earlier this month for theft, bribery, falsifying police reports and other charges. And police chief Scott Gardner is on administrative leave, facing 13 felony charges including theft, tax evasion and tampering with records.

Activist Mariah Crenshaw was at East Cleveland City Hall Friday morning, calling for a wider investigation of city leadership.

Crenshaw said officers in the department have also failed to meet the state’s training requirements.

“It is now for us to look at those above them, for us to look at the mayors and the law directors and for us to look at the city prosecutors because they have this knowledge,” Crenshaw said.

The department currently has an interim chief. The mayor, who has not commented publicly on the indictments this month, is facing a recall vote in November.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media who focuses on criminal justice.