- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - The prosecutor who cleared an off-duty Cleveland policeman in a fatal shooting is asking the sheriff’s office to review the officer’s actions now that he was found liable in that death in a civil case.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty and Cleveland police had concluded that 20-year-old Kenny Smith, of Euclid, was lunging for a gun when he was shot in the head by Officer Roger Jones in March 2012. In early September, a jury awarded Smith’s family $5.5 million in the federal civil case that found Jones liable for using excessive force.

McGinty requested the sheriff’s review last week, his spokesman, Joe Frolik, told the Northeast Ohio Media Group (https://bit.ly/1R2Dcsw ).

“We want to make sure it’s looked at with a fresh set of eyes and see what they come up with,” Frolik said, adding that an independent review could boost public confidence in the investigative process.

Sheriff Clifford Pinkney is out of town and hasn’t responded to the request, Frolik said.

Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Steve Loomis called the request a “political move.” He said McGinty’s previous conclusion that cleared Jones of any wrongdoing “tells you all you need to know.”

Smith was riding with a driver who was suspected of having just fired into a crowd near a downtown nightspot and who has since been charged. McGinty concluded Smith was reaching for a weapon in the car and Jones fired to protect public safety, but Smith’s relatives have questioned that account.

The family’s attorney, Terry Gilbert, accused two other officers of lying to help a fellow officer and has separately asked federal prosecutors to review whether those officers committed perjury in the civil case, the media group reported.

It said a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach declined to comment on Gilbert’s letter.

The requests come as Cleveland police are under increased scrutiny. The U.S. Department of Justice issued a report last year saying Cleveland police officers too often use excessive force and violate people’s rights. A judge later approved an agreement between Cleveland and the DOJ aimed at reforming the troubled police department.

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Information from: Northeast Ohio Media Group, https://www.cleveland.com

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