2 “bad lieutenant” troopers target Black Cleveland east siders in illegal patrols

CLEVELAND, OH – The state’s lawmakers made it clear to individuals applying for public jobs as employees of the Ohio Highway Patrol that their law enforcement duties in Title 55 of the revised code were limited to enforcing laws and investigating accidents “outside municipal corporations” on the state’s roads and highways.   They have authority to patrol roads and investigate accidents in townships.

Two sections of R.C. 5503.02 gives them the authority to enforce “criminal laws” inside municipal corporations.   One is only at the request of the county’s sheriff or a mayor whose city was facing riot, insurrection or civil disorder.  Even if the sheriff or mayor asks the governor for help, the troopers can’t act until the governor assigns them to a specific area and until the riot, insurrection or civil disorder is over. 

The second section of R.C. 5503.02 authorizing highway patrol law troopers to enforce laws inside municipal corporations is when a cop on the streets is in an emergency and asks for it.  

In the City of Cleveland v. Persaud employee of the Ohio Highway Patrol were told, and the state agreed, that troopers had no authority on private property. The city’s municipal court reiterated what state lawmakers and their oaths had already told the duty-exceeding public employees. Stay off private property. EJBNEWS captured an image of a trooper parked on private property inside the municipal corporation of Cleveland performing law enforcement duties on a municipal owned and controlled street. Broadway Avenue is under the control of the City of Cleveland, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation and R.C. 723.01 the trooper violating it can’t suspend.

Last spring EJBNEWS launched an investigation to learn how OHP employees ended up making criminal arrests on private property and on city streets in Cleveland’s predominantly black neighborhoods without a request of Mayor Frank jackson or Sheriff Clifford Pinkney; and being assigned by then Governor John Kasich.   

Peter Casey, an attorney with the Ohio Department of Public Safety, confirmed that no Cuyahoga County mayor or sheriff had asked the governor for  help.  Casey also confirmed that then Superintendent Paul Pride did not “assign” troopers to conduct “criminal patrols” on Cleveland’s residential streets.  R.C. 5503.02(D)(1) prevented any officer of the state from giving an unlawful order to troopers.

The only authorizing source of the troopers’ criminal patrol presence in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County appears to be a memo Casey provided to EJBNEWS that was implemented by state employees Darren Huggins and Neil Laughlin.  The memo claimed the Ohio Highway Patrol would “partner” with the Cuyahoga County sheriff’s office, Cleveland Police Department, DEA, US Marshal’s, ATF and the Ohio Investigative Unit to conduct their “Criminal Patrol Operations” inside the municipal corporation of Cleveland in four police districts. 

Photo by Justyn Anderson
This trooper “arrest” occurred inside a Walgreen’s parking lot at the corner of E. 116th Street and Union Avenue far away from any highway or road of the state where a trooper has arrest authority. Troopers were already told in a Cleveland municipal court case they had no arrest authority on private property.

The language of the authorizing memo described a series of planned unconstitutional and conspiratorial acts troopers would engage in during what the two bad lieutenants described as their “Criminal Patrol Operations.”

Uniformed officers will work in tandem with plain clothes/undercover officers. Marked vehicles will focus on traffic enforcement, looking beyond the stop, and identifying criminal activity, as well as enforcing OVI and seat belt violations. Plain clohtes/undercover element will provide intelligence on areas of violent crimes, drug/criminal activity, and conduct surveillance in areas where criminal activity exists.”

No “partnership agreements” as described in the memo Huggins and Laughlin used to guide their conduct were approved by the federal, state, county or city officials authorized to enter them.  Mayors in cities are the chief law enforcement officers and administrative contract signing authority; but only after that official asks council through a resolution for the authority to first negotiate and then enter it. 

No law gives a chief of police, commander, captain, lieutenant, sergeant or patrol officer the authority to enter a contract or “partnership” that binds a city.  Huggins and Laughlin had no authority as state employees to negotiate agreements that “partnered” with any of the public governments they wrongly-described as mere “agencies.”  Partnership agreement negotiations are not within the job descriptions of trooper lieutenants.

The Patrol Assignment the two “bad lieutenants” created specified that they were responding to accident reports inside the municipal corporation of Cleveland. But R.C. 5503.02 is clear on where the authority of troopers to investigate accidents exist. The two trooper lieutenants literally “suspended” a general law of the state and committed criminal acts when they did so. Troopers have the authority to investigate accidents “outside municipal corporations.”

EJBNEWS obtained a master list of all OHP policies approved by the Superintendent and could find none that identified a procedure or process for “Criminal Patrol Operations” within municipal corporations.  

The state’s general assembly, in ratifying the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, placed the enforcement of federal, state and local criminal laws under the authority of municipal police in R.C. 737.11.  Municipal police jurisdiction runs concurrent or is superior to any outside law enforcement agency. 

EJBNEWS learned from Ohio Department of Transportation spokesperson Erica Hawkins that the agency sees highways “inside municipal corporations” as being under the care, maintenance, control and policing of the municipal corporation.  ODOT funds are not allocated to maintain or police highways inside municipal corporations.  ODOT officials use R.C. 723.01 to separate the lines of authority between the state and municipal corporations for streets identified as “State Routes.”  

John Kasich, when he served as Ohio’s governor, showed a complete inability to control highway beat cops and clean up the inaccuracies in the state’s NCIC and LEADS criminal records history databases. Troopers who want to be real cops, instead of performing patrol duties the state’s lawmakers created for them, have mismanaged the databases so poorly half the Ohioans with information stored on them is inaccurate. The troopers are using the inaccurate NCIC and LEADS databases “unlawfully” to establish probable cause as the reason for high sped chases. Federal law requires “hits” to be confirmed with the “originating agency” before any action is taken.

Each approved policy of the Superintendent corresponds with a section in Chapter 4501 of Ohio’s Administrative Code (OAC) as it describes the specific duties of the public employees employed to limit their conduct to the performance of the duties of troopers found in R.C. 5503.  EJBNEWS could find no such corresponding OAC section that supported the “Criminal Patrol Operations” the two lieutenants appear to have created and orchestrated on their own; and outside the state’s general laws. 

The net effect of Huggins and Laughlin’s individual acts is a suspension of R.C. 5503.02 that violates Section 1.18 of Ohio’s constitution “suspension of laws.”

“No power of suspending laws shall ever be exercised, except by the general assembly.

What the two “bad lieutenants” also did by acting outside the authority of troopers was remove their “qualified immunity” liability for any claim against the state and city for their unlawful conduct.

Thousands of Cleveland and surrounding city residents have expressed anger at the illegal trooper patrols inside municipal corporations and on residential streets.  News reports have shared coverage of reckless high speed chases through densely-populated residential streets over minor misdemeanor offenses that have resulted in injuries to innocent bystanders, the chased motorists, troopers and damaged city property.

A high speed chase that began on Harvard Avenue and 93rd Street because of the minor misdemeanor offense of weaving ended up with a crash and victims almost 20 minutes later at E. 105th Street and Superior near a library for children, a senior citizen apartment complex, churches and a busy bus stop inside the municipal corporation of Cleveland. Of course the accidents the troopers caused was investigated “inside the municipal corporation” by state employees whose only authority is to investigate accidents “outside municipal corporations” according to Ohio law.

On June 6, 2018 the troopers Huggins and Laughlin supervised attempted to stop a man for reckless driving along on Harvard Avenue that resulted in a high speed chase, with a helicopter Huggins ordered, to follow him to a utility pole at E. 105th Street and Superior Avenue. Cocaine was found in his vehicle but it wasn’t the reason for the attempted trooper stop on city-owned Harvard Avenue. Two other cars were involved in the crash.  City property was damaged in the wild trooper pursuit through the city’s densely-populated residential streets. 

On August 28, 2018 troopers chased a man along Euclid and Cliffview Avenue between Cleveland and East Cleveland that crashed into a school bus. 

On November 9, 2018 troopers on Superior and E. 75th Street attempted to stop and then chased a man driving without his headlights that ended up in a two-car crash with two victims. 

Troopers were involved in a high speed pursuit that originated on I-77 when one attempted to pull over a woman for an alleged minor misdemeanor “window tint” violation that state law really put on the backs of car manufacturers and sellers.   The troopers are profiling motorists by pulling up alongside them to see if they can identify their images through the tint; and using it as the basis for a traffic stop that endangers them and others on interstates.  It’s done so they can use the stop to look beyond it as a reason for look for “criminal activity” as the Patrol Assignment described. 

EJBNEWS captured images of troopers stopping a man on E. 120th and Corlett Street behind John Adams High School. The nearest highway is three to four miles away. The troopers ordered the man out of the car while he conducted the stop. He then handcuffed and placed him in the rear of the public safety vehicle for “officer safety.” After having full access to the man’s vehicle, the trooper removed him from the rear of the public safety vehicle, uncuffed him, shook his hand and then made an illegal u-turn to drive away.

Critics have accused Huggins and Laughlin of supervising troopers who are operating like racist vigilantes inside the predominantly African American neighborhoods they’ve targeted for unconstitutional law enforcement acts.  

EJBNEWS confirmed that the only law enforcement assistance Mayor Frank Jackson sought was from the U.S. Department of Justice when he asked federal prosecutors on March 14, 2013 to investigate Cleveland police for engaging in the same type of unlawful acts the troopers are engaging in on the city’s residential streets.

Jackson got his confirmation when the USDOJ confirmed that unlawful acts were being committed by the municipal corporation’s peace officers against its inhabitants after a review of 600 incident reports.

Troopers chased a man into a school bus in one pursuit; and in this one they sped past day cares and a high school on Miles Avenue.

The mayor on behalf of the municipal corporation, and with the legislative authority’s approval, entered a federal consent decree with the United States government on November 6, 2016 to prevent law enforcement officers from engaging in the acts described in the trooper’s memos as they were confirmed to be unlawful and unconstitutional.

Critics believe the unlawful presence of OHP troopers within the municipal corporation of Cleveland has obstructed Jackson’s authority to deliver constitutionally-compliant policing to the inhabitants of the municipal corporation.  The racial-profiling nature of the trooper patrols has African American residents to suffer, again, from unlawful stops, unlawful searches of vehicles, unlawful detentions, false reports, violations of rights under the color of law, conspiracy to violate rights under the color of law, violence, disparate and unequal treatment under the color of law.

Some of the judges, according to Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Michael Nelson, have been dismissing citations troopers filed while on criminal patrols inside the municipal corporation of Cleveland.  That particular court in City of Cleveland v. Persuad has already decided troopers have no authority on private property off the highways inside municipal corporations.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.