CLEVELAND (WJW)– Two Cleveland police officers were arrested on misdemeanor charges of interfering with civil rights, obstruction of official business and dereliction of duty charges. The charges allege they failed to “prevent the commission” of a crime and delayed a hit-skip investigation.
Arrest warrants were issued late Thursday for Cleveland Patrol Officers Harvey Andrekovic and Jason Rees. Both officers worked out of the city’s fifth district police headquarters.
The warrants said the incident happened on Aug. 22 on East 149th. According to the warrants, the two, “Did negligently fail to prevent the commission of an offense and/or apprehend an offender.”
The two are also accused of delaying an investigation and impeding, “A public official in the performance of their duties.”
The Fox 8 I-Team obtained a dispatcher’s call log from the incident that stated officers were called to investigate a motor vehicle crash that turned violent.
The call log stated witnesses reported a male with a gun and a male was seen kicking a female. It further stated a person believed to be one of the driver’s appeared intoxicated. Vehicles were towed from the scene, but the call log does not state if anyone was arrested.
The I-Team did request police body camera video from the case, but city hall officials will not release it, arguing it is part of an open investigation.
Both officers appeared in court Friday and entered not guilty pleas to the charges. They were booked into the jail and then released on a personal bond.
Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeff Follmer and defense attorney Henry Hilow declined to answer specific questions about the case since it’s still pending. However, they both maintained arrest warrants should not have been issued for the officers.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic,” Hilow said. “Our issues are with the procedures that were followed for the safety of the officers, for the safety for the court personnel, for the safety of the people in the jail, for the safety of anyone during a pandemic. They knew were the officers were. These are misdemeanor non-violent offenses.”
Follmer said he believes his officers are being treated unfairly, and should have been issued a summons and allowed to appear in court via video arraignment.
“They are good police officers. They are in a city right now that is the fifth-most dangerous city in the country and there were 180 homicides last year,” Follmer said. “These are guys that go out there everyday and do their work. It’s unheard of right now to issue arrest warrants for misdemeanor non-violent offenses during the COVID-19 crisis and it’s not right. We are being treated unfairly, we want to be treated like everyone else .”
We did reach out to city officials to discuss the case and to ask if it’s standard procedure to issue arrest warrants for non-violent misdemeanor charges. We have not yet heard back.