Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tamir Rice, other police killings dominate Cuyahoga County prosecutor's race debate at the City Club in Cleveland between O'Malley and current prosecutor Tim McGinty....Black activist at event say they support O.Malley....By Editor-in-Chief Kathy Wray Coleman

Cuyahoga County prosecutor candidate Michael O'Malley gives opening statements at a debate at the City Club in downtown Cleveland on Feb. 23, the first public debate between O'Malley and his Democratic opponent, current County Prosecutor Tim McGinty. Both are competing in the March 15 Democratic primary.
Embattled Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty
An original article by Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com, Ohio's most read online Black Newspaper and digital Black newspaper blog. Tel: 216-659-0473. Email: ( / ( Coleman interviewed now President Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS

Tamir Rice
CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM-CLEVELAND, Ohio- Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty and his challenger for the March 15 Democratic primary, Michael O'Malley, debated one another at the City Club in downtown Cleveland at noon on Tuesday, the first public debate in a heated race that comes on the heels of several high profile Cleveland police killings of Black people in recent years, including the November 2014 shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Both McGinty, who is serving the fourth year of his first four-year-term as prosecutor, and O'Malley are White, and Cleveland is a largely Black major American city that will host the Republican National Convention this year, a presidential election year in fact.

Moderated by attorney Brandon D. Cox of the Cleveland-based law firm of Tucker Ellis, the event drew a full house, and Black community activists eager to hear what both had to say.

"A good prosecutor does not posses a win-at-all- cost mentality," said O'Malley in his opening statement. "My opponent has served as county prosecutor for the last three and a half years and the county's criminal justice system has been on a roller coaster ride ever since. "

Again referencing McGinty, O'Malley, a former city councilman, first assistant county prosecutor under Bill Mason, McGinty's predecessor, and the Parma Safety director until he quit in January to campaign for office, added that "we are all aware of fights with individual judges."

McGinty, he said, cannot get along with "the bench as a whole, the criminal defense bar and police officers."

O'Malley said that if elected, he will change the way police deadly force cases are handled, and will work with the judges to expand the drug court. And he pledged to implement a  state -of -the- art case management system with open discovery.

Police need to be better trained, O'Malley said.

McGinty's antics, said O'Malley in a forum earlier this month sponsored by Black activists, including the Imperial Women Coalition, the Carl Stokes Brigade and Black on Black Crime Inc., drove him to leave the prosecutor's office. 

McGinty was invited to the forum, said activists, but refused to attend.

A former common pleas judge and county prosecutor since 2012, McGinty, 64, has refused to participate in public forums or inner city debates in the Black community.

Rachael Smith tweeted after the debate that "McGinty has skipped minority forums but shows up in Fairview Park and at the City Club."

McGinty highlighted his record and rape cases he has successfully prosecuted, including the 1984 rape and murder of Gloria Pointer, and the infamous case of Ariel Castro, who held Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry hostage for a decade at his since demolished home on the city's largely White west side.

"I've restructured the prosecutor's office to focus our limited resources on habitual violent criminals," the prosecutor said. "We also aim to reduce indictments, increase rehabilitation, diversion, drug and mental health programs."

And he blamed Michael Green for his wrongful conviction on rape testimony of a White woman who later recanted, a case against a Black man that he prosecuted when he was an assistant county prosecutor. The celebrated case resulted in a 2005 Pulitzer Prize in journalism for then Plain Dealer reporter Connie Schultz, the wife of U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown, who has not made an endorsement in the prosecutor's race.

McGinty said that the public corruption crisis under predecessor Mason when Mason was prosecutor will not be allowed to return, though few, other than officials of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest newspaper, believe that things have changed for the betterment of Black people. But data, including a study commissioned by the Cleveland NAACP, show that in Cuyahoga County Blacks are still disproportionately indicted, prosecuted, convicted and sent to prison in large numbers.

The embattled prosecutor spoke on the police killings in 2012 of unarmed Blacks Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, who were gunned down with 13 non-Black Cleveland police officers firing 137 bullets, only one of them indicted per McGinty's lobbying. That lone officer indicted, Michael Brelo, who has since been fired along with several others involved in the deadly shooting, was acquitted of manslaughter charges in a bench trial before Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell, a McGinty ally and now a Democratic candidate for an open seat on the Ohio Supreme Court.

McGinty said that things have changed since the Williams-Russell shooting, an unprecedented police shooting that, along with the Tamir Rice shooting, has caused activists, the Cleveland NAACP and area Black and other clergy to demand his resignation. 

O'Malley said that the aforementioned cases and that of Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill woman killed by police in 2014 on the city's east side, have taken too long to process, Anderson's case being handed to the state attorney general last week due to a conflict with McGinty, and the Rice case taking nearly a year to get to a county grand jury.

Tamir Rice was gunned down on November 22, 2014  when police officers Timothy Loehmann, a rookie who pulled the trigger, and Frank Garmback, pulled up at a public park and recreation center on the city's west side where the kid was toting a toy gun, and following a foiled 9-1-1 call to police dispatchers.

Per the recommendation by McGinty neither officer was indicted by the grand jury, a scenario that has outraged community activists and Black leaders, including 11th Congressional District Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge, who has endorsed O'Malley.

To no avail, McGinty pushed at O'Malley to answer the question of whether he would have advocated for indictments against police in the Rice case and relative to the Williams-Russell shooting, though O'Malley has said essentially that he is not the county prosecutor and cannot make such a blanket judgment.

Community activist Amy Hurd told Cleveland Urban News.Com after the debate that "I am voting on Mr. O'Malley because he is all we have."

No Republican took out petitions to compete in the prosecutor's race in a county, Ohio's largest of 88 counties statewide, that is roughly 29 percent Black, and a Democratic stronghold. And no Independent has entered the race, which means that the winner will likely be determined via the Democratic primary.

McGinty was denied his party's endorsement, and though O'Malley did not get it either, he did nab the non-binding endorsement of city ward leaders across the Cuyahoga County.

The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, the rank and file police union led by Steve Loomis, also has not endorsed in the race, and after endorsing McGinty in 2012.