Report: Cleveland police mishandled internal probe into officer shot by partner

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 11:29 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - According to a new report filed in federal court, the Cleveland Police Department mishandled the internal investigation into a female officer who was shot by her rookie partner in 2020.

The Cleveland Police Monitoring Team, established by the Consent Decree, determined the incident was not accurately reported and reviewed, that the use of officer force was not properly analyzed, and that a supervisor review was “poor.”

In July of 2020, Officer Jennifer Kilnapp was shot in the arm while responding to a domestic violence call.

It was later determined she was accidentally shot by her partner, a rookie assigned to train under Kilnapp.

“Ultimately, the Monitoring Team is concerned that the City appears to be failing to recognize that its accountability mechanisms are related and intended to create a system of checks and balances,” the team concluded. “Internal Affairs, the Force Investigation Team, the Force Review Board, training and hiring have all been identified as areas where improvements can be made to reduce the risk of this type of incident reoccurring. Until the Division and the City recognize and act on these issues robustly and holistically, significant concerns remain about whether the accountability mechanisms created by the Consent Decree have been successfully implemented.”

Both the mayor’s office and police administration declined to comment on the team’s findings, but court documents show the city disagreed with some of the accusations.

“It’s smoke and mirrors,” said Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association. “If you’re not involved in the investigation, you shouldn’t be critiquing us. There’s a lot of work, everybody knows [the team] is watching.”

The monitoring team praised a subsequent internal affairs investigation but laid out a series of changes for the department to implement.