A Cleveland police officer is accused of shooting an unarmed robbery suspect in the back, paralyzing the man as he attempted to run away, and then lying during the internal investigation to justify the shooting.
The allegations come in a civil rights lawsuit first filed in the Cuyahoga County common pleas court, and then bumped up to federal court yesterday. It was filed by a lawyer representing Maple Heights resident Alex Littlejohn, now 22, against police officer Ronald Myers and the City of Cleveland.
It happened in May 2014. Littlejohn had just robbed the Family Dollar store near the corner of Payne Ave. and East 34th St. He was being chased by Myers, who then "tackled or otherwise restrained Littlejohn", it says. Then an unarmed Littlejohn, "attempting to evade arrest, pushed himself up and away from Officer Myers." Here's what the lawsuit says happened next:
When Littlejohn was approximately 10 to 15 feet from Officer Myers, Myers shot Littlejohn in the lower back. Officer Myers shot Littlejohn despite that Littlejohn was not harming or attempting to harm Officer Myers. Rather, Littlejohn was fleeing from Officer Myers when he was shot.
In an attempt to justify shooting Littlejohn, Officer Myers provided inaccurate information to the City of Cleveland officials responsible for conducting an internal investigation of Myers' use of deadly force. Myers alleged that he and Littlejohn were involved in a struggle for Myers' gun at the time Littlejohn was shot. As such, Myers alleged Littlejohn was shot at close range and the shooting was justified. In reality, however, Littlejohn was an unarmed suspect who was shot as he fled from Myers.
The lawsuit brings claims against the officer and city on grounds of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment; assault and battery; and negligent hiring, training and supervision.
Read the suit here: