CLEVELAND, OH – The one municipal officer missing from Mayor Justin Bibb’s announcement of his administration’s “line of determination” ruling about the death of Shane Bartek was Director of Law Mark Griffin. The “office” of the “director of law” was referenced as having provided an opinion. That officer of the municipal corporation was not present to cite the specific laws which authorized Bibb to agree that Bartek’s death was “in the line of duty.” The Bibb administration “outside the law” ruling came two days after Cleveland Police Patrolmens Association president and patrol officer Jeffrey Follmer expressed his “outrage” over a ruling he anticipated.
Bibb did not share a copy of a “written opinion” from the director of law when he described himself as the “son of a cop.” Bibb’s three minute and 13 second video statement was attended by Director of Public Safety Karrie Howard and Chief of Police Wayne Drummond. Bibb ended his video statement by asking voters and inhabitants of the city to think about Bartek’s family instead of the laws he took a midnight oath of office to obey and enforce on January 3, 2022. Since there were no reporters in the room the mayor, like a straight up Communist dictator, avoided any questions from reporters.
Law Director Griffin’s absence was compelling. It’s his duty pursuant to Section 733.54 of the Ohio Revised Code to issue written legal opinions; and he’s the only official authorized to provide opinions to the city’s officers.
“When an officer of a city entertains doubts concerning the law in any matter before him in his official capacity, and desires the opinion of the city director of law, he shall clearly state to the director of law, in writing, the question upon which the opinion is desired, and thereupon the director of law shall, within a reasonable time, reply orally or in writing to such inquiry. The right conferred upon such officers by this section extends to the legislative authority of the city, and to each board provided for in Title VII of the Revised Code.”
Howard is an attorney but he’s not operating as one for the municipal corporation; and the director of public safety has no authority to issue a line of duty determination or a legal opinion under any Ohio law. A line of duty determination made by an official who was not given the statutory authority to make it by the General Assembly does not affect his law license. Drummond is the chief of police and not an attorney. He’s got no law license to lose for his far outside the law views.
Griffin, however, is an attorney and Cuyahoga County’s former “inspector general.” He’s supposed to be a corruption buster and a “do it right within the law” guy. He’s also operating under the Disciplinary Rules in the Code of Professional Responsibility; and has a duty to obey Rule 1.13(a) and (b) if he’s smart.
“(a) A lawyer employed or retained by an organization represents the organization acting through its constituents. A lawyer employed or retained by an organization owes allegiance to the organization and not to any constituent or other person connected with the organization. The constituents of an organization include its owners and its duly authorized officers, directors, trustees, and employees. (b) If a lawyer for an organization knows or reasonably should know that its constituent’s action, intended action, or refusal to act (1) violates a legal obligation to the organization, or (2) is a violation of law that reasonably might be imputed to the organization and that is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization, then the lawyer shall proceed as is necessary in the best interest of the organization. When it is necessary to enable the organization to address the matter in a timely and appropriate manner, the lawyer shall refer the matter to higher authority, including, if warranted by the circumstances, the highest authority that can act on behalf of the organization under applicable law.”
Section 737.06 of the Ohio Revised Code gives the chief of police authority to, “have exclusive control of the stationing and transfer of all patrolmen, auxiliary police officers, and other officers and employees in the police department, and police auxiliary unit, under such general rules and regulations as the director of public safety prescribes.”
Bibb sought to expand the police chief’s duties by giving Drummond the authority to investigate something beyond the statutory limits of R.C. 737.06. If he reads the Cleveland Division of Police’s department regulations he’ll see the “chief of police’s” name all over them instead of “under such general rules and regulations as the director of public safety prescribed. Citing regulations from a document created in a manner that exists contrary to law voids the “chief of police’s” departmental rules and regulations Drummond claims his team reviewed.
The “general duties” of the “director of public safety” are found at Section 737.02 of the Ohio Revised Code. If Bibb looks at Howard’s December 2021 disciplinary actions, and his termination of patrol officer Vincent Montague, he’ll see an obstructionist still turning crimes into administrative offenses. Montague’s termination was pure politics.
“Under the direction of the mayor, the director of public safety shall be the executive head of the police and fire departments and the chief administrative authority of the charity, correction, and building departments. He shall have all powers and duties connected with and incident to the appointment, regulation, and government of such departments except as otherwise provided by law. He shall keep a record of his proceedings, a copy of which, certified by him, shall be competent evidence in all courts. Such director shall make all contracts in the name of the city with reference to the management of such departments, for the erection or repair of all buildings or improvements in connection therewith, and for the purchase of all supplies necessary for such departments.”
There are no “line of duty” determination duties assigned under any unsuspended state general law to the “chief of police” or “director of public safety.” It’s the Ohio Police and Firefighters Fund pension board that makes the “line of duty” determination if and when Bartek’s surviving spouse applies for benefits she may be owed. It’s up to the Bibb administration to deliver the evidence they’ll now have to create. The pension funds supply their own forms.
These are “brick wall” general laws no one at the mayor’s announcement cited to back up their claims; and that they’re going to run up against when people start asking for the records. Every record his administration is creating is public. If a state law requires a record to exist, and it isn’t in the file, the failure to create and deliver it is criminal act of dereliction of duty.
Section 145-2-38(B) of the Ohio Revised Code is a statute that exists to “determine the eligibility of a qualified spouse.” It reads as follows: “Survivors of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.” Title 145 is where the state’s pension fund laws are found.
For purposes of determining the eligibility of a qualified spouse under division (B)(2)(a)(i) of section 145.45 of the Revised Code, the employer of the law enforcement officer at the time of the officer’s death shall certify, on a form provided by the public employees retirement system, that the law enforcement officer was killed in the line of duty.
What the Bibb administration’s “line of duty” determination now implies is that Bartek was “under the supervision of the municipal corporation” at the time of his robbery; when all public records and published reports say otherwise. He was not “clocked in” for work around the time of the robbery and his death.
There is no time card showing Bartek arriving for work prior to his death. There are no Computer Aided Dispatch recordings of any emergency calls he answered. There are no reports for any calls Bartek answered around the time of his death. There is no record of his participation in roll call at the beginning of a shift; or his being assigned a patrol car. Video cameras surround police property. If he was scheduled for work on January 1, 2022 there should be video footage of Bartek arriving in his vehicle and walking into the 5th District.
What Bibb appears to be operating on is a “legal opinion” from the acting chief of police and director of public safety that Bartek’s death during a robbery in an apartment building parking lot was “in the line of duty.” What’s should exist is a “written” request for a legal opinion seeking a written review of the applicable “line of duty determination” laws from Director of Law Griffin. What Council President Blaine Griffin should do is ask for it. If he doesn’t any member of council can. Any member of the public can request a copy, if it exists, pursuant to Section 149.43 of the Ohio Revised Code.
In Ohio the Supreme Court has ruled that, “[a] benefits determination, even when there are facts in dispute, ‘is within the final jurisdiction of the [retirement system], subject to correction by action in mandamus only upon a showing of an abuse of discretion.” State ex rel. Crosby v. Dept. of Mental Retardation, 38 Ohio St.3d 179 (1988).
In a state Supreme Court case involving a highway patrol officer’s “line of duty” claim, Section 5503.02(4) of the Ohio Administrative Code was cited as a way to explain “in the line of duty.”
“In the line of duty” means an illness or injury that occurred during or resulted from the performance of official duties under the direct supervision of the state highway patrol.”
The issue of “evidence” needed to support a “line of duty” claim was raised in State ex rel. Woodman v. Ohio Pub. Emps. Retirement Sys., 144 Ohio St.3d 367, 2015-Ohio-3807, ¶ 17. The ruling further affirmed the pension board’s duty to make a “line of duty” determination. It also affirmed the right of citizens to file a mandamus that forces the Bibb adminstration to obey the state’s “line of duty” laws instead of maliciously and recklessly creating their own.
(“The [retirement] board abuses its discretion—and a clear right to mandamus exists—if it enters an order that is not supported by some evidence.”).
The authorized way for Bartek to have been performing “official duties” when he grabbed the gun Tamara McLloyd held was for him to be on the clock, uniformed and on the streets under a sergeant, lieutenant, captain or commander’s “direct supervision.” The mere grabbing of a weapon to save his life, whether the circumstances made it lethal for him to use a police tactic or not, did not place Bartek under any police supervisor of the municipal corporation’s direct supervision. If he was then there’s an employee Bibb should be disciplining for his failure to properly supervise an employee with two years and four months of experience.
A search of Cleveland ordinances reveals two “line of duty” special benefits the Bibb administration appears to be trying to give Bartek’s family beyond the laws surrounding the state pension fund benefits. Cleveland city council during Michael White’s term as mayor in 2ooo enacted Ordinance Number 171.39. Special Death Benefit for Employees of the City of Cleveland.
“Effective January 1, 2000, if a City employee is killed in the line of duty or dies as a direct and proximate result of the performance of the employee’s official work-related duties, the City shall, within ninety (90) days of the employee’s death, make one (1) payment of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) to the surviving spouse or, if there is no surviving spouse, to the estate of the employee. This payment shall be in addition to any other benefits or compensation to which the employee’s beneficiaries would be entitled. (Ord. No. 1305-2000. Passed 8-7-00, eff. 8-17-00)”
(a) If a City employee is killed in the line of duty or dies as a direct and proximate result of the performance of the employee’s official work-related duties, the surviving spouse, until such time as the employee would have been eligible to retire, and employee’s dependents shall be entitled to health care benefits as available under the City’s plan. (b) This ordinance applies to the spouse and dependents of employees killed in the line of duty or who died as a direct and proximate result of the performance of their official work-related duties on or after January 1, 1998. (c) Eligible survivors who are entitled to the benefits must pay the same contribution to the premium as paid by the City employees. (Ord. No. 879-09. Passed 8-5-09, eff. 8-13-09)”
The two ordinances are amendable by council to include employees in Bartek’s not at work status. But the administrative manipulations of words that do not exist in laws, by police already accused of falsifying records by the United States Department of Justice, should not be tolerated.
If Bibb wants the special line of duty benefits for Bartek’s family he has to ask council to amend its ordinance; and council has to submit it to the electorate in three public council readings. His request would not be an “emergency” and should include burial costs for every homicide victim. It’s Bibb’s duty to obey and enforce all laws as they are written in plain and unambiguous English.
Cleveland employed another “Shane.” Shane Wilcox was the sanitation worker killed in Cleveland on E. 138th Street on November 18, 2018 while working under the city’s direct supervision. Wilcox was an American Negro and Bartek an Eastern European.
Wilcox got condolences, no widespread media coverage and no public demands from any member of council that his burial costs be covered by the city. It’s been four years and his killer has not been found by the same Cleveland cops, his fellow city workers, who found Shane Bartek’s alleged killer in less than 48 hours.
Eastern Europeans control police in a city with a more than 55 percent American Negro population. This selective enforcement of laws for the benefit of certain classes of employees is offensive and is a disparate treatment under the color of law. Instead of perpetuating it Bibb promised to eliminate it. If he doesn’t the voters will. His political support among the voters is “Dennis Kucinich recall thin.”
Bartek was a robbery victim and not an employee of the municipal corporation of Cleveland at the time of his death. If Bibb and council want to pay his burial costs then every homicide victim’s burial costs should be paid with tax dollars instead of council paying for tampons, Joe Cimperman’s Global Cleveland and a wage of between $30,000 and $192,000 for the mayor’s secretary. $302,000 for the Port Authority director is obscene. That’s the cost of 60 burials at $5000 a funeral.
If Bartek’s private burial costs are a city expense then the mayor and council should have paid for the burial costs of Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Tamir Rice, Tamia Chapmann and every other American living in Cleveland who has been shot and chased to death by municipal police sworn to obey and enforce all the criminal laws we see city officials violating.
Right one day. Wrong the next. Watch Karrie Howard and Wayne Drummond babble through their comments. Drummond and I interacted, often, when ex-Mayor Jane Campbell appointed him to be her police spokesman. I was publishing Cleveland Challenger before my election as East Cleveland’s mayor.
He didn’t stumble around for words in the past. In the video he’s stumbling around for words. Everything that glitters ain’t gold. Wayne. This job might not be a good fit for you.
All I see in Bibb’s news conference is a perpetuation of the cover-up and cover-for-each-other oath of office violations that existed under the past administration. I see a full criminal investigation of the Cleveland Division of Police in the Bibb administration’s future. I see new fall guys who’ll take the hit for the past.
The information I’m receiving about the circumstances surrounding Bartek’s death suggests that Bibb had better learn who he was visiting at the apartment, and why he was visiting that person, before they go in to deep on the “fallen hero” story. Cops talk.
You start off wrong and you end up wrong. The mayor is the chief law enforcement officer. Not it’s #1 violator.