Even though a federal jury found a Cleveland police officer responsible for the 2012 death of Kenny Smith, Cuyahoga County prosecutors continue their full-court press to hold another young man responsible. Now — after years of this questionable legal blitz — Tim McGinty's office has asked a special prosecutor to pick up the case.
Since 2012, Devonta Hill faced a heavy line-up of criminal charges related to the shooting — despite the fact that he had nothing to do with the death. On the March 2012 night when Kenny Smith was killed by off-duty Cleveland Police Officer Roger Jones, Hill was driving the car Smith was riding in after shots scattered a party in a downtown bar. Law enforcement alleges Hill was brandishing and firing his weapon at the club before jumping in his car and picking up Smith. When the car was stopped by Cleveland PD's Jones, moments later, Smith was gunned down.
Law enforcement and prosecutors initially claimed Smith had been reaching for the gun in Hill's car — a version of the story swatted down in a federal court trial last fall. There, the jury plainly laid liability for Smith's death on Officer Jones. Yet still, despite that decision, county prosecutors went forward with criminal charges — including murder — against Hill.
Until last week, the case had stalled for years. Citing lack of movement, the charges against Hill were dropped late last Friday. Rather than quietly move on, Tim McGinty re-indicted Hill on the same charges that same day.
The latest: the county prosecutor, perhaps finally seeing the optics of the situation, has asked for the Ohio Attorney General's office to pinch-hit on the case. From the court filing:
Now comes the State of Ohio, by and through Cuyahoga County Prosecutor TimothyJ. McGinty, and hereby moves this Honorable Court for the appointment of Special Prosecutor Ohio Attorney General Michael Dewine, and/or any Assistants Attorney General appointed by him, to include but not limited to Assistant Attorneys General Brian Deckert and Micah Ault, to represent the State of Ohio with the same power and authority granted to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Office in the above-captioned case.
The Prosecuting Attorney so moves this Honorable Court because the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor has conflict in the above-captioned case that prevents his continued representation of the State in this matter. Attorney General DeWine has agreed to represent the State in this matter, upon appointment.
The office has not specified what conflict my be.
An outside prosecutor may finally bring some logic and clarity to the situation. That said, it's important to note McGinty sent up the Bat signal for outside help after
already re-indicting Hill.