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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Death by Cop

Posted By on Tue, Jan 16, 2007 at 12:09 PM

It turns out that the Cleveland police are perfect. Just ask their superiors. On Sunday, The Plain Dealer revealed that of the 4,427 incidents when police used non-deadly force on suspects in the last four years, each was ruled justified by department higher-ups. The most trouble-prone cop, according to The PD's analysis, was Patrolman Martin Rudin, who somehow managed to rack up 36 physical confrontations in four years -- more than most prizefighters. Rudin was also involved in three shootings, including one in which he killed a suspect by shooting him in the back. Those interested in reading the rest of that story should click over to Scene's September 8, 2004 cover story, "Loose Cannon." The feature chronicles how after that shooting, Rudin and his partner, Officer Daniel Jopek, sat in the police gym for eight months until the use of deadly force was ruled justified. Nine months later, the two officers killed another unarmed suspect, again shooting him in the back. The only difference was that this time Jopek was the triggerman. The city prosecutor sent the case to the grand jury, which declined to charge Jopek with any crime. A federal jury in a civil case filed by the suspect's fiancee later cleared Jopek of any wrongdoing in the shooting. But that doesn't mean he's an angel. According to this PD article, Jopek and Rudin could have been singled out for additional training and counseling if the police department had used an early warning system to track cops who were involved in more violent incidents than their peers. Chief Michael McGrath says he will implement such a system. Unfortunately, it comes too late for the two suspects killed by Jopek and Rudin. -- Kevin Hoffman

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