If you've been alive and looking at a computer or television screen in Cleveland the last two days, you've probably heard the story of the Cleveland Heights man who said that a Cleveland Heights cop pulled his gun on him after the driver finally stopped in front of his house. The cop had seen the man speeding down Coventry, hitting 38 mph on the 25 mph street. It'd taken awhile to pull over though, you see, because the man's wife was in labor and he was rushing home. And once he was in front of us house, the Northeast Ohio Media Group's Mary Kilpatrick tells us in a story based entirely on an interview with the man
, the cop pulled his weapon and aimed it at the man for about 30 seconds. His wife was crying at the front door. He was already thinking about filing a civil lawsuit.
Near the bottom of yesterday's article, entitled "Cleveland Heights cop draws gun on man rushing to pregnant wife," is what would charitably be described as Kilpatrick's attempt at getting the other side of the story:
Cleveland Heights Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson is on vacation and did not return calls for comment. Cleveland Heights City Manager Tanisha Briley said that the city believes that Robinson acted appropriately.
"We're aware of the incident and complaint by the driver and the matter is currently under review," Briley said. "Upon initial review we are comfortable that the officer followed CHPD protocol appropriately and he conducted himself in a professional manner."
Today, Chief Robertson and Cleveland Heights provided audio of the call the man made to the Cleveland Heights police station later in the day — one where, Kilpatrick writes, he was threatened with a felony charge — and other details surrounding the stop. We get a slightly different story here, to say the least. Among the factual differences: the police department's "threat of a felony," as the audio shows, was really, "What you did could be considered a felony... No, it's not going to be a felony." Oops. Here's the rest, via the Heights Observer:
Shortly after 7:30am on Friday, December 12, 2014, Officer Robinson attempted to stop Mr. Taylor for speeding after observing his speed at Clarkson and Coventry roads. Mr. Taylor continued to drive north on Coventry and then west on Edgehill, a distance of nearly one mile, while Officer Robinson followed him with lights and sirens activated. At 7:36am, Officer Robinson can be heard over the radio alerting the station of his pursuit in light of the driver's failure to stop. When Mr. Taylor finally stopped his vehicle, he immediately exited and came toward Officer Robinson in an agitated manner. Officer Robinson then exited his patrol car with his gun drawn and asked Mr. Taylor to show his hands which were not visible as he approached. Once Mr. Taylor complied and stopped his approach toward the Officer, Officer Robinson immediately holstered his gun. Officer Robinson had his gun in hand for no more than the seconds during the verbal exchange. Officer Robinson proceeded to check Mr. Taylor for weapons while Mr. Taylor explained his wife was having a medical emergency. Officer Robinson then called for an ambulance for Mr. Taylor's wife and asked Mr. Taylor to sit in his car. Officer Robinson's request for an ambulance can be heard over the radio at 7:38am, just two short minutes after his initial call to the station during the pursuit.
At 7:40am, Officer Robinson is heard canceling the ambulance, which he did at the request of Mrs. Taylor. At the same time, Mr. Taylor placed a phone call to the station to express his concern about the traffic stop. The recording confirms that Mr. Taylor was advised by the Officer in Charge that he should have stopped and because he failed to do so he would receive a citation.
The entire incident from pursuit, to calling the ambulance, to Mr. Taylor calling the station, and the last officer clearing the scene lasted a total of 14 minutes. Mr. Taylor was given two citations, one for speeding and another for failing to yield.