There's laws for the cops and laws for everybody else
Arbitrator reinstated Cleveland police officer fired, convicted for stabbing felon boyfriend
By Brandon Blackwell, Northeast Ohio Media Group
Cleveland police dispatcher reinstated after misrepresenting 911 call, violating policy
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Cleveland police officer who stabbed a sexual predator she dated and allowed to live in a home with her children was given her job back despite the city's attempt to fire her.
Mayor Frank Jackson on Friday said the arbitration process can present major roadblocks in attempts to reform the city's police department which came under scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice
Some of the nearly 20 arbitration documents obtained by Northeast Ohio Media Group reveal that punishments doled out by the department are sometimes overturned.
An arbitrator allowed patrol officer Shani Hannah to return to the police force in September 2014 after she was fired following a criminal conviction stemming from her stabbing her boyfriend and trying to take her own life.
The 11-year veteran was drunk in the March 2012 incident where she grabbed her boyfriend by the throat, hit him in the face and stabbed his legs and hands. Hannah fled the scene and sent text messages to her boyfriend and children that she was going to kill herself.
Police found her parked on a dead-end street with a cord tied around her neck. An officer smashed a car window and reached in to stop her from taking her own life. Hannah later told police that the suicide attempt and text messages were efforts to keep her out of jail.
Prosecutors charged Hannah with felonious assault. She pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor assault charge. A felony conviction would have barred her from carrying a firearm and automatically kept her off the force.
A judge sentenced Hannah to a suspended 6 months in jail, a year of probation, 25 hours of community service, drug testing and anger management. Then-Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask wrote in a discharge letter that Hannah was fired because "the use of a weapon to inflict harm on another is inexcusable and unacceptable conduct by an officer."
While determining whether to uphold the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association's call for Hannah's reinstatement and back pay, the arbitrator questioned Hannah's ability to make sound judgments.
He cited an incident in which Hannah drove drunk with her children in the car and later screamed suicide threats at home, a breakdown Hannah attributed to the recent death of her grandmother, who raised her.
The arbitrator also brought up Hannah's decision to maintain a years-long relationship with her live-in boyfriend, a registered sexual predator with a hefty rap sheet.
The boyfriend, Darnell Richardson, has convictions that include drug possession, drug trafficking, sexual battery, attempted kidnaping, gross sexual imposition, abduction, forgery and attempted robbery. At one time he was forced to wear an ankle bracelet while on parole.
Hannah claimed she didn't know about Richardson's criminal history or that he was on parole when they met. She said she was made aware of Richardson's past when he used it against her and threatened to report their relationship to the city.
Hannah stayed with Richardson despite his physical and emotional abuse, she said.
The union argued Hannah should be reinstated based in part on lesser punishments received by officers who committed crimes the union deemed similar. They presented four cases in which off-duty officers were charged with domestic violence but kept their jobs after pleading guilty to lesser charges.
The arbitrator sustained part of the union's grievance, reinstating Hannah but denying the request for back pay. He conceded Hannah was guilty of egregious behavior, but determined her punishment was inconsistent with penalties given to other officers who committed similar crimes.
Cleveland police spokesman Sgt. Ali Pillow said Friday that Hannah no longer works with the department. Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland police union, was not immediately available for comment.
Judge declares mistrial in case of LAPD officer charged with assault
By MARISA GERBER AND KATE MATHER
Los Angeles Police Department
Mistrial declared in case of LAPD officer accused of kicking woman during 2012 arrest ending in death
A judge declared a mistrial Thursday in the case of an LAPD officer accused of kicking a woman in the groin during an arrest in 2012 that ended in the woman’s death.
Mary O’Callaghan’s trial took an unexpected twist Thursday after an official in the Los Angeles Police Department's internal affairs division gave a prosecutor new information about a sergeant who witnessed the 2012 incident, said Robert Rico, O’Callaghan’s attorney.
Rico said the internal affairs employee approached Assistant Head Deputy Dist. Atty. Shannon Presby on Thursday morning and told him about a disciplinary hearing in which the sergeant testified that he advised O'Callaghan to stop during the 2012 altercation with Alesia Thomas.
The sergeant didn’t mention ordering O’Callaghan to stop in earlier statements to internal affairs investigators, Rico said.
The defense attorney questioned why it took so long for the LAPD to come forward with the information, saying he believed department officials must have known about the statement for several months and failed to legally disclose the information.
“I’m flabbergasted,” Rico said. “This case has been a political case from the start.”
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith declined to comment.
"Our department does not comment on ongoing criminal cases. We'll let the judicial system come to the right conclusion," Smith said.
O’Callaghan, 49, was one of several officers who responded to Thomas’ home to investigate allegations that she abandoned her children. After interviewing her, officers placed her under arrest.
A squad car video camera captured O’Callaghan kicking Thomas in the stomach and groin and shoving her in the throat, prosecutors said. Thomas lost consciousness once inside the patrol car and paramedics were called. The 35-year-old was pronounced dead at a hospital soon afterward.
An autopsy by the L.A. County coroner determined that cocaine intoxication was likely "a major factor" in Thomas' death. It wasn't possible to determine what role, if any, the struggle with the officers played in her death. The official cause of death was listed as "undetermined."
A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office declined to comment on the new evidence, calling it “privleged.”
O’Callaghan’s next court appearance — a new pretrial hearing — is scheduled for April 2.