Sam Allard / Scene
A baby at a rally for Desmond Franklin in Cleveland, June, 2020.
A Cuyahoga County grand jury has declined to bring charges against the off-duty Cleveland police officer who shot and killed Desmond Franklin in April, 2020.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced the decision in a Friday evening press conference, explaining the grand jury's decision and re-capping the police narrative.
In that version of events, portions of which have been corroborated by eyewitness accounts, Yost said, officer Jose Garcia was on his way to work when he encountered Franklin and a juvenile engaged in potential criminal activity outside a convenience store on Forestdale Avenue in Cleveland's Brooklyn Centre neighborhood.
Garcia saw the pair stealing a box of pop from a truck. There was a brief verbal exchange. According to Yost, Garcia was acting as a private citizen and took no action to enforce the law.
Garcia then left the scene, and Franklin pursued in his vehicle. As the two were driving alongside each other, Garcia said that Franklin pointed a gun at him, which prompted him to fire at Franklin. He fired five shots, killing him with a shot to the head.
The juvenile with Franklin confirmed that he had given Franklin a gun, and a loaded gun was found in Franklin's car. But it has not been corroborated that Franklin pointed it at Garcia.
The grand jury, in any event, determined that there wasn't enough evidence to bring charges. They agreed with Garcia's claim that he was acting in self-defense.
Lawyers for the family of Desmond Franklin have disputed the police account.
“The family of Desmond Franklin is incredibly disappointed that a Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to charge the off-duty Cleveland police officer who shot and killed Desmond last April as they drove side-by-side down a crowded street in Cleveland," Stanley Jackson of the Cochran Law Firm said, in a statement provided to the media. "Grand jury hearings are conducted in secret, so the family is unclear about exactly what information was presented by prosecutors."
The City of Cleveland released a statement as well, affirming that it would now begin its internal administrative review process of Garcia's actions. If Garcia is found to have violated protocol, he could face discipline up to and including termination of his employment.
Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.