Cleveland police officer wrongfully arrested woman, left toddler with man accused of child abuse, investigators say | #childabuse | #children | #kids


CLEVELAND, Ohio— A Cleveland police supervisor wrongfully arrested a woman, never investigated accusations that the woman’s boyfriend burned her 5-year-old son with a cigarette and left an infant in the boyfriend’s care, despite the fact he had no legal custody rights, according to an investigation by the city’s Office of Professional Standards.

Cleveland’s Civilian Police Review Board recommended Tuesday that Cleveland Safety Director Karrie Howard suspend Sgt. Michael Keane for his actions. The board recommended the highest level of discipline, which could be between 10 days and firing, along with five other violations that could result in a suspension of between six and 10 days.

Howard will review the case and decide whether to hand down punishment.

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8 union President Capt. Brian Betley did not return a message seeking comment.

OPS director Roger Smith said during Tuesday’s monthly meeting that the review board should, at a later time, use the incident as a starting point for a discussion on amending policies that govern how police handle custody issues.

The incident that resulted in the complaint against Keane happened about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 24 at the couple’s home on West 131st Street.

The OPS investigation found:

  • Keane arrested the woman on a domestic violence charge without properly investigating the incident.
  • That he did not take into consideration that the man was on probation for a felony domestic violence conviction for attacking the woman six months earlier while she was eight-months pregnant
  • That officers did not listen to her when she reported to her that the man shoved and burned her 5-year-old son with a cigarette, nor did they report the potential abuse to Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services
  • Keane left the woman’s 7-month-old son over to the man she accused of burning her other son, despite the fact that he had no legal custody rights to the boy. The man was also intoxicated at the time and the woman’s brother was at the scene, ready to take custody of the boy.

The woman’s 34-year-old boyfriend called police and reported that girlfriend had attacked him, the third time he had made a complaint against her in the six-month period since he was charged and convicted of abusing her, according to a summary of the OPS investigation read during the meeting by investigator Julie Dulaney.

Authorities never brought charges against the woman in any of the incidents.

Two officers — Kody Turchon and Thomas Makris — arrived and found the woman barricaded in her room with her children, Dulaney said. The woman told police she was scared for her children’s lives. The officers asked for Keane, a supervisor, to give them guidance.

The woman told the officers that her boyfriend got mad because she wanted her 5-year-old son to sleep in their bed that night. The two argued and the woman told officers that he shoved the boy into a fan and burned his leg with a cigarette.

The boy separately told Keane about the burn, and Keane asked to see his injuries. The boy said he was unable to roll up his jeans high enough to show the injury. Keane didn’t press to the see the injuries and never took photos, according to Dulaney.

Keane later told OPS that he believed the boy was coached by his mother to make the accusation and that he believed the cigarette burn was the result of an accident. No officers included accusations of the burn in their reports. Keane also told OPS investigators that the incident was reported to Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services.

But an agency social worker told OPS that it never received a report from police and that officers “definitely” should have reported it as child abuse so the agency could investigate.

The man and the woman at different times also discussed the man’s history of domestic violence against her, but the officers never examined the man’s background.

Keane told OPS investigators he based his arrest on two factors: that the man’s mother witnessed the incident and because of the woman’s “hostile” behavior.

Dulaney noted that the body camera video did not show the woman exhibiting any hostility toward the officers, and that she showed officers a video of the man’s mother threatening her that night. The officers arrested her anyway, Dulaney said.

Keane left the 7-month-old with the man, despite the woman pleading with him to allow her brother to take the boy, along with his older brother. She repeatedly told him that her boyfriend was not the boy’s father and showed him a birth certificate to back that up, Dulaney said.

Keane, however, told the woman that she was “probably lying” and “didn’t have a choice in the matter,” Dulaney said.

Keane, despite seeing the boy’s birth certificate, determined the woman’s boyfriend was the father and had the right of first refusal. The children service social worker told OPS that the boy should have been given to the woman’s brother.

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