Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mason review names names

The independent review of the Demetrus "Rayshawn" Vinson case by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason was finally released today, about two months after investigators initially thought they'd need. The end result confirms the findings of the Summit County Medical Examiner that the 19-year-old died from a bullet fired from his own gun and not at the hand of police officers who pulled him over in March. It's a suicide, according to the report.

You can read all 15 pages online at but one point that stands out to me is this is the first time we've seen the names of the two officers involved released to the public. Only one officer fired that night, striking Vinson three times. The other drew his gun as both ducked for cover.

It's protocol for the names of officers involved in shootings to be withheld for a period of time as the investigation continues. A senior police officer tells me that's done in part to protect the officers and their families from any community retaliation. Still, the officers' names are typically made public before now (four months after the shooting).

I'm just hoping the officers themselves were made aware of their names going public today. Certainly, Mason's ruling is what most expected, so it's not that anyone is expecting a backlash from the community. Yet, with the officers' actions still under review by the Summit County Prosecutor (as is protocol), seeing their names up in lights makes things a bit awkward at this point.

By the way, according to the Mayor's office, Mason's office did the review for free.

I'll write more as I digest the report itself and hear reaction ..

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