East Cleveland council members blame mayor, seek outside help after indictment of 11 current, former police officers

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 2:44 PM EST
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EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - East Cleveland City Council President Juanita Gowdy and fellow council members blamed Mayor Brandon King for a culture of corruption on Wednesday, following the indictment of multiple current East Cleveland police officers.

“I am very shocked. The behavior of the police officers is terrible, the way they’ve [treated] the citizens. Something has to happen for change. And it starts with the mayor,” Gowdy said.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley announced Wednesday afternoon 11 current and former East Cleveland police officers were just indicted on allegations of violating civil rights and public corruption.

This brings the number to a total of 16 East Cleveland police officers that have been indicted for crimes in the past six and a half months.

One of the 16 is former East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner. He is facing charges for alleged financial crimes and scheduled back in court on April 20.

After the council members wrapped up their news conference, Mayor King addressed reporters and pushed back on claims that he’s responsible for fostering corruption.

“I would ask for a thorough explanation as to what and why they’re saying that,” he said.

King criticized the city’s requirements that a new police chief must be promoted from within the department, which he says he voted against during his time a council member.

“I take issue and I’m sure our men and blue take issue with lumping together corruption of the entire of department,” King said. “At some point some of them have lost their way. Those who are found to have committed any crime, we will help prosecute in any way, shape or form.”

King also pointed to the administration upgrading its body camera system.

“I’ve stated since my first day here, safety first. Zero tolerance. So I take issue with anyone who would say that,” he said, referring to council members blaming him the actions of members of the police department. “Particularly those who would say it without a remedy or an assistance to help make it better.”

Council President Gowdy called on the Ohio State Highway Patrol and sheriff’s office to help the department protect the public.

“We need some help. We would appreciate any help the Sheriff’s Department will give us. I believe it will take down some of this crime,” she said.

It’s estimated there are only 20 or so officers remaining with the department, but the Vice President of city council said they’re unsure how accurate the number is, or how many of those officers are active and full-time.

“We have had different information provided. That’s part of my concern. The police chief sent us one set of information, and it’s slightly different than what we’re getting from the Attorney General’s website,” said Patricia Blochowiak.

Blochowiak pushed for more collaboration between city council and Mayor King.

“The mayor of this city needs to agree to work with the rest of government,” she said. “The mayor needs to work with us.”

King disputed claims he hasn’t worked with council.

“I’ll continue to do my part as an elected official to work with the entire body of city council. I think the records show I have,” he said.