Cuyahoga County

March 2015 Police shooting ruled justifiable


^ Click to read letter to Chief of Police Calvin Williams
Cleveland – Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty has released a finding concluding that Cleveland Police Officers were justified in their use of deadly force when they shot and killed an armed man, Theodore Johnson, who already had shot at and hit a policeman on the evening of March 11.

In a letter sent to Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams this afternoon, Prosecutor McGinty noted that the shooting had been captured on video tape and had been investigated by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department. The evidence was reviewed by the County Prosecutor’s Office and presented to a Grand Jury.

“The evidence shows the Officers showed remarkable restraint and went above and beyond the call of duty to seek a peaceful conclusion,” Prosecutor McGinty wrote. “These Officers are commended for responding with courage and for heroically fulfilling their duty to protect the public.”

On the evening of March 11, a total of six Cleveland Police Officers responded to a report from Johnson’s wife that the 64-year-old man was armed and had threatened to kill her and their landlady.
When Officers David Muniz and John Lyons —calling out to announce themselves as police — went up the back stairs of the Ottawa Avenue duplex, they were confronted by Mr. Johnson, who jumped out of his apartment and fired two shots. One of the bullets struck Officer Muniz in his protective vest.

During the standoff that ensued, officers implored Mr. Johnson to put down his weapon. He refused and told the officers, “I’m shooting. I’m dying.” After more pleas from police for him to surrender, Johnson raised his gun toward them, and Officers Lyons, Michael Surtz, John Jarrell and Timothy Hannon opened fire, fatally wounding the suspect.

“As the officers had their body cameras on and operating, the evidence is indisputable,” Prosecutor McGinty wrote. “The evidence demonstrates that Mr. Johnson attempted to murder a police officer by shooting him in the chest and then was determined to be killed by the police. Despite police begging him to drop his gun, Mr. Johnson purposely raised it again after being warned of the consequences. The officers were left without a reasonable alternative.”

Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communications and Public Policy. Phone: 216.443.7488 or Email: