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Ohio Police Struggle to Explain Why Cops Targeted a Black Motorist Before Shooting At Him 6 Times; Video Shows One Officer Knew the Driver’s Name Before the Stop 

An Ohio man is recovering from multiple gunshot wounds after being shot in the back by police during a traffic stop, but his family and attorneys are questioning why he was even stopped by cops in the first place.

The Columbus Division of Police released the body camera video of an officer shooting 66-year-old Michael Cleveland in the back in Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 5.

Cleveland was shot by Officer Joshua Ohlinger as he ran away at about 3:05 p.m. Cleveland ran after the police pulled him over near Wilson and Stanley Avenue. His attorney says he may never walk again.

Michael Cleveland shooting
Body-camera screenshot showing the Columbus Division of Police shooting of Michael Cleveland. (Photo: Police Incidents / YouTube)

“One of those shots hit him in his spinal cord…and he’s unlikely to ever walk again,” said attorney Sean Walton.

Police dash-cam video show police following a black truck for about a minute before identifying the driver as Cleveland. He drove into an alley and parked behind a building. It’s unclear if the patrol lights on the vehicle were activated while they were following him.

As soon as he parked in a lot behind a building, Cleveland exited his truck and ran between two buildings, prompting Ohlinger to say, “Hey, sir? Hey, sir?” before chasing him.

A few seconds later, Ohlinger yelled, “Hey, hands up” and immediately unloaded six shots into Cleveland. After shooting Cleveland, Ohlinger yelled, “Show me your hands! Hands Up!” Cleveland replied that he couldn’t.

Ohlinger then asked, “Where’s the gun.” Cleveland replied that he threw it. According to 10WBNS News, the officers handcuffed the 66-year-old before rendering aid. Cleveland was taken to the Grant Medical Center and reported to be stable.

“It wasn’t what we expected to see, like my dad falling straight forward we didn’t know if he was dead or alive,” said LaKeya Cleveland.

In a slow-motion version of the video, Cleveland could be seen dropping an object on the right side of his body. The police said the item was a gun.

Rev. Tim Ahrens from the Area Religious Coalition said the video was disturbing and wondered why Cleveland was pulled over. “It’s disturbing,” said Ahrens. “We continue to throw down a Taser and pull out a handgun in pursuing someone who, what was the crime?”

Several people commented on the video on YouTube and also had questions about the shooting. One person wrote, “Damn why he shoot him so quick smh.”

“Wow. He shot the old dude 6 times in the back,” wrote another.

Ohlinger also shot a 17-year-old boy running from a traffic stop last August. NBC4 reported that the teen and his 18-year-old passenger were both armed and ran from the back seat of a vehicle during the stop. The teenager survived and is reportedly stable.

Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said that Ohlinger was on leave for three months following the shooting, which would mean he’d only been back on duty for a few months before shooting Cleveland. Court records showed that Cleveland had a Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistol on him and was charged with having a weapon while under disability.

Bryant avoided questions about why Cleveland was stopped in the first place. She said that the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was investigating while noting sometimes such cases could take up to three years. Cleveland’s family wants the officers to be removed from street patrol until the investigation into the shooting is complete.

“Again, BCI has this investigation,” she said. “We can’t interview the officer, we can’t talk about this, this is all part of their actual investigation. All we can do is actually show you what we actually saw on the video, so that’s all I can go into right now.”

According to a report from ABC6, Cleveland was charged with a weapons violation, and prosecutors have agreed to pursue an indictment. His family is calling for a probe by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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