Cuyahoga County

Fatal shooting by Metroparks Rangers ruled justifiable

7/25/2016

Cleveland –The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office has completed its review and concluded that Cleveland Metroparks Rangers Chelsea McLellan and Kyle Schultz were reasonable and justified in their use of deadly force when they shot and killed Derek Stokes on December 8, 2015.

Evidence in the case has been presented to the Grand Jury, and its members agreed that the actions of Ranger McLellan and Ranger Schultz were objectively reasonable and justified in the light of the events of that evening.

The two Rangers were transporting Mr. Stokes to Cleveland City Jail after arresting him at the Cleveland Metroparks Lakefront Reservation on an outstanding burglary warrant and possible drug charges.

As they drove into the parking garage beneath the jail, Mr. Stokes drew a handgun and fired at Ranger McLellan, striking the upper right torso of her bulletproof vest. Ranger McLellan jumped from her car and along with Ranger Schultz, who had following just behind in his own cruiser, exchanged gunfire with Mr. Stokes, killing him.

In a letter sent today to Cleveland Metroparks Chief Ranger Dan Veloski, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty wrote: “Any officer situated in a similar position, and faced with similar facts, would have acted in a similar fashion to end the deadly threat posed by Mr. Stokes.”

Mr. Stokes, 33, was pulled over on a routine traffic stop. A records check turned up the burglary warrant and when a K-9 unit arrived on the scene, Rangers discovered a digital scale and a plastic bag filled with powder later discovered to contain cocaine and heroin. Although handcuffed during the trip from the East 55th Street Marina to downtown Police Headquarters, Mr. Stokes managed to get his hands in front of him and to retrieve a pistol he apparently had hidden.

This was the gun he used to shoot at Ranger McLellan and Ranger Schultz.
The incident was investigated by the Cleveland Division of Police and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department.

Evidence was turned over to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office for review. In keeping with the Office’s policy on police use of deadly force cases where civilians are killed, evidence was also presented to the Grand Jury for a final determination on whether criminal charges are warranted.

Both the Prosecutor’s Office and the Grand Jury concluded that given the dangerous situation, Ranger McLellan and Ranger Schultz were justified in using of deadly force and should not face criminal charges.

“(Mr. Stokes) had fired at Ranger McLellan from close range and continued to shoot at her and at Ranger Schultz. He ignored repeated commands to surrender and continued his efforts to escape, all the while holding a gun,” Prosecutor McGinty wrote in his letter to Chief Veloski. “The Rangers had no choice but to return fire. Indeed, their lives and potentially those of others in Cleveland Police Headquarters and beyond depended on ending the threat posed by Mr. Stokes.

“Given his use of deadly force against them, the Rangers used the only alternative available to protect themselves, other fellow officers and the community.”

Read letter to Metroparks Chief Dan Veloski
Read the full feport
Report - Appendix A
Report - Appendix B
Report - Appendix C

Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communications and Public Policy. Phone: 216.443.7488 or Email: jfrolik@prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us