Cleveland cop fired for utilizing crack cocaine, failing to report fellow officer who stepped on man’s neck throughout arrest

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland fired a police officer for using crack cocaine and failing to report that a fellow officer stepped on a man’s neck during an arrest.

Karrie Howard, Cleveland’s director of security, fired Howard Hart, 31, following an internal investigation the city announced in a press release late Wednesday of updated coronavirus statistics.

Cleveland Police Spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciacca declined to provide further information about the investigation, and the city released few details. Jeff Follmer, union president for the Cleveland Police Patrolman Association, did not immediately return a message asking for comment on the shot.

Hart, who was hired by the city in 2015, owned and used crack cocaine from July 2016 to July 2020, according to the city’s letter informing him of his release. The letter does not provide any further details on how investigators reached this conclusion.

He also failed to report precisely to his colleagues John Petkacs Actions during a September 4, 2018 incident. Petkac escalated tensions with a man responding to a domestic violence incident, kicking the man twice in the throat, handcuffing him and slamming him into a police cruiser, according to city records. The records described Petkac’s behavior as “retaliation,” but provided no further context.

The detachment released Petkac on December 21 for this incident and two other incidents of excessive use of force during arrests. Six more officers were suspended without pay on December 30 for the September 4, 2018 incident. The department disciplined these officers for not preventing Petkac from harming the man and for not properly reporting or investigating the incident.

Howard also fired Hart for failing to register four times for compulsory training in the summer of 2019, failing to show up for work on August 7, 2019, and failing to appear at the police doctor’s doctor seven times on June 2020. According to the letter, he appeared on July 10, 2020 also fails to require a law enforcement officer interview.

Hart was an officer in the city’s third district and was one of 15 officers in 2018 Appointed Community Engagement Officers who are charged with developing relationships with residents and community leaders.

Hart’s Cleveland Police Department issued Gun was stolen, along with his car, from the parking lot of the Interbelt Nite Club in Akron in 2016. At the time, police said Hart could be disciplined for failing to secure his gun, but Ciaccia did not respond to questions on Thursday when the department disciplined Hart on this one.