Cleveland transit report finds pepper spraying of protesters proper

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 15, 2015 2:21 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A Cleveland transit police officer's use of pepper spray during a confrontation outside a Black Lives Matter conference in July was proper, according to an agency report on the incident that was released on Tuesday.

Sergeant Robert Schwab had used pepper spray during a confrontation in downtown Cleveland between officers and attendees at the Movement for Black Lives conference, who were referred to as rioters in the internal transit authority report.

Police body camera videos and video clips from protesters show that a crowd of more than 100 demonstrators surrounded transit officers after two white officers detained a black 14-year-old boy.

According to police, the teenager was extremely intoxicated when he was placed in a police car as the July 26 conference was ending.

Schwab can be seen on several videos using pepper spray on members of the crowd, which encircled the police car to prevent it from leaving with the teenager. Officers released the boy to his mother about an hour later and the crowd dispersed.

The report also found protesters violated multiple laws including failure to comply, disorderly conduct, and misconduct at an emergency. No arrests were made.

The officers acted to reduce tensions, resulting in a peaceful resolution and the release of the child to a parent, the report said.

The investigators found that the actions of Schwab and the other officers did not warrant discipline. Schwab, a 25-year veteran of the force, has been on restricted duty since the incident and will return to full duty.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey)