A 41-year-old Cleveland transit police officer said he was only defending himself when he shoved a 68-year-old mentally ill man onto the train tracks inside a rapid transit station earlier this year.
But a security video shows the cop and another cop standing on the platform blocking the man from climbing back onto the platform rather than helping him up. Luckily, no trains pulled into the station at the time.
Last week, Regional Transit Authority police officer Jason Rivera was charged with three misdemeanors related to the incident, including assault, dereliction of duty and unlawful restraint, according to online court records. He was also suspended without pay.
Meanwhile, charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct against the homeless man, Edward McDermott, were dismissed on the basis that he was incompetent to stand trial due to an unspecified mental illness, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The incident took place on February 16, 2021 at the Brookpark transit station where trains run about every ten minutes.
According to the police report, McDermott became “aggressive” towards the cop when asked to remove his personal belongings for a custodian cleaning. He also insulted Rivera by calling him a “rent-a-cop,” the Plain Dealer reported.
Rivera claimed he shoved McDermott after the homeless man lunged towards him and threatened him, making him fear for his safety.
However, Regional Transit Authority police refused to release the security video until the Cleveland Plain Dealer filed a claim with the Ohio court system which forced its release in April.
The video is without sound but shows McDermott did a couple of half-lunges towards the officer before turning and walking away which was when he was shoved.
Michael Gettings, who was police chief at the time, called the incident “inappropriate” and “unacceptable” and ordered him to attend 40 hours of crisis intervention training and one day of de-escalation and judgement training, the Plain Dealer reported.