Cuyahoga County forensic chemist fired for clearing sample with cocaine

Plus, Cleveland Pacemakers under investigation; group assesses Cleveland housing; and officers disciplined in Tamir Rice case

We boil down what happened in Cleveland this week.

Cuyahoga County forensic chemist fired for clearing sample with cocaine

Gagandeep Sran, a forensic chemist for the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office, was fired after investigators found that he cleared a sample that contained crack cocaine. Sran reported that the incident was his only mistake; however, further investigations revealed that he also failed to follow procedure when testing other samples. The review of more than 670 cases that Sran handled since Dec. 1, 2014 revealed that there were 27 mistakes made. While the medical examiner’s office and judge could not comment on the impact of these errors on criminal cases, a defense attorney has said that incorrect sample results can undermine criminal cases, especially since sample results carry a huge weight on the cases.

Leader of the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance under investigation

Reggie Rucker, former Cleveland Browns player, is under investigation for his handling of grant money for the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance, which he is currently the head of. The organization works to lower inner-city violence by working on the street level.  Federal investigators have approached the Cleveland Foundation, who is the group’s primary funder, for paperwork regarding grants the group received. Rucker has commented that the investigation does not involve the current finances for the group. The investigators are also looking into Rucker’s involvement with the local Amer-I-Can chapter, which he left in 2014 after arguments with the organization’s founder over “philosophical differences.”

Cleveland surveys every parcel of land to assess health of Cleveland housing

The urban branch of the Western Reserve Land Conservatory, Thriving Communities Institute (TCI), has undertaken a geographic information survey of each and every parcel of Cleveland land to create a comprehensive database for the city. TCI has a history of creating land banks, while its director, Jim Rokakis, has a history of supporting demolition as a way to rejuvenate neighborhoods. Rokakis has already secured funding for demolition from the State Attorney general, a special US Treasury fund, and Cuyahoga County. However, the fate of houses that have lower grades isn’t clear and the reports that are generated from the survey will need to be analyzed.

Police Supervisors in charge of hiring officer in Tamir Rice case are disciplined

The police supervisors who were responsible for the hiring of Timothy Loehmann, who fatally shot 12-year old Tamir Rice in November, were disciplined for their neglect of failing to further investigate Loehmann’s background as well as other issues. According to recently released documents, Lt. Gail Bindel was suspended for two days while Sergeant Edwin Santiago received a written reprimand. Loehmann had been hired in 2014 after getting rejected from five area police agencies and resigning on his first day at the Independence Police Department. In addition, the police academy supervisor at the Independence Police Department had noted in Loehmann’s personnel file that he had issues following command and was “dismal” at handgun training. The Cleveland Police turned over the investigation into the shooting to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office.