Groups of community activists call for Cleveland police chief's resignation after deadly chase

CLEVELAND - A coalition of Cleveland community activists are calling for Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath's resignation.

Organizers of a community forum on Thursday said those in attendance voted for Chief McGrath to resign after the investigation into the deadly police chase and shooting in November.

The forum, which was held at Lil Africa on Cleveland's east side, included a panel of discussion that was moderated by Minister Robert Saffold. The event was organized by Imperial Women.

"Now we want to hear from the people so we can organize, come speak with one voice and go to the powers that are and try to bring some solace, of closure to this situation," Saffold said.

Criminal defense and civil rights attorney Terry Gilbert also spoke Thursday and called for a change in the Cleveland Police Department.

"These are systemic problems that have been going on for years and it's critical that people east, west, north, south, get involved in this dialogue," Gilbert said about the Ohio Attorney General's report on the incident.

"There's no reason to put things off until after a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings to do stuff policy-wise," said Dennis Ficker. 

Ficker and his ex-wife, Bernadette Rolen, attended the forum, fighting on behalf of their son, Daniel Ficker, who was shot to death by a Cleveland police officer July 2011. 

"They're just treating people like animals and shooting them in the streets, and it's ridiculous," said Ficker of the Cleveland Police Department. "They have no regard for human life what so ever."

"This is a very unique situation," said Cleveland Ward 2 Councilman Zack Reed at a separate event Thursday night. He said he is glad to see an open dialogue and open discussion being held. 

"The community forums are good," Reed said. "We're not going to hide, we're not going to be held under a rock. But we're not going to come any conclusions until the professionals do their job, so that's all I'm asking."

"I'm asking the public. I'm asking everyone to just cool-out," Reed said. "We should commend the police chief, instead of asking him to resign or to be fired. We should commend him that he took it (the investigation) out of his office. He took it out of the mayor's office and he has put it in the hands of the professionals."

A spokesperson for the Cleveland Police Department released this station on Thursday:

"Chief McGrath is focused on completing the City's administrative review of the November 29 th incident and maintaining the integrity and credibility of that process. He will not comment further at this time on the information released by the Attorney General, the County Prosecutor's comments, the Union's comments or the subsequent questions raised by the public release of the investigative file."

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