CLEVELAND - It became a dramatic showdown between police and protesters near Cleveland State University on Sunday.
Transit authority police said one of their officers used pepper spray on a crowd outside a Black Lives Matter conference that was just letting out at the university at East 24th Street and Euclid Avenue just after 5 p.m.
One of the conference attendees said people locked arms, blocked the street near the police cruiser and chanted. Police said the officer resorted to pepper spray when the crowd wouldn't allow a cruiser with a suspect in the back seat leave the scene.
Witnesses told newsnet5.com's Jonathan Walsh a 14-year-old boy was accused of being drunk on a bus when he was approached by officers.
At the same time across the street, a convention for The Movement for Black Lives was being held at Cleveland State University.
Multiple witnesses tell newsnet5.com officers used pepper spray on several people. Video in the player above purports officers using pepper spray on protesters.
The 14-year-old boy was treated by EMS and released into the custody of his parents.
Officials of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) released this statement:
At 4:40 p.m. today, July 26, Transit Police officers on routine patrol peacefully removed a intoxicated 14-year old male from a bus. Police said the juvenile was intoxicated to the point where he was unable to care for himself.
Police escorted the youth from the bus to a bus shelter on Euclid Avenue at East 24th Street.
Transit Police followed normal procedure, which is -- after police collect pertinent information, juveniles are transported to police headquarters to await release to a parent or legal guardian.
Within minutes, a large crowd had gathered. For the safety of the juvenile, Transit Police moved him from the open shelter area into a police cruiser. The crowd then surrounded the car, and attempted to remove the juvenile from the car. By this time, several other law enforcement agencies had also responded.
The crowd kept the police car from leaving the area. A Transit Police officer used a general burst of pepper spray in an attempt to push back the crowd, to no avail.
The juvenile was escorted from the police cruiser to a waiting EMS unit to be examined at the scene. He was then released to the custody of his mother at 5:47 p.m.
The incident is under investigation.
RTA will update this statement as more facts become available.