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‘My heart breaks’: Cleveland police seek suspect after veteran officer was shot and killed in his cruiser

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Yet another police officer has been killed, bringing the total number of officers who were “feloniously killed” this year to at least 34.

The officer, 25+ year veteran Det. James Skernivitz of the Cleveland Police Department, reportedly died during a shooting that occurred around 10:00 pm Thursday evening as he was driving in his cruiser.

Another person, a man reportedly in his 50s who’d been in the police cruiser with Skernivitz, was also killed.

Skernivitz’s car reportedly crashed immediately after the shooting.

As of Friday morning, the suspect remained on the loose, though virtually no information was available regarding how he looked.

From the sounds of it, someone opened fire as Skernivitz was on the road, killing both him and his passenger.

According to The Plain Dealer, police officers “swarmed the crime scene” after the shooting and began “scanning the neighborhood.”

Soon after Skernivitz was transported to a local emergency room.

“More officers came in and out of MetroHealth’s emergency room, along with Williams and Jackson. At 3 a.m., a line of about three dozen police cars escorted Skernivitz’s body from the hospital to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office,” the Dealer reported.

Skernivitz’s death prompted an immediate outcry of grief from local officials.

“Cleveland lost one of its finest tonight in the line of duty. He was doing what all police officers do — trying to protect this city, and he gave his life,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams reportedly said.

“We definitely need the prayers of the people in this city. This officer was out doing what all police officers do, trying protecting the people of this city and he gave his life. So we ask that you give his family a little room.”

See other reported responses below:

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson: “Personally, I want to give my condolences to the family on behalf of the city of Cleveland.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost: “Detective Skernivitz gave his life trying to keep danger off the streets of Cleveland. This tragedy shows once again the valor and honor of the police — and that there are yet dangerous, evil men in the world who must be brought to justice. My heart breaks for his family and I pray that in their grief, they find solace in his legacy of service and sacrifice.”

Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeff Follmer: “He was a great person and a great officer.”

Police deaths are rare in Cleveland.

“Skernivitz is the first on-duty Cleveland police officer to die since Vu Nguyen died July 7, 2017, after he collapsed of heatstroke during a training exercise and the first to be fatally shot on duty since Derek Owens on Feb. 29, 2008,” the Dealer reported.

“Lamidi Kafaru fatally shot Owens as Owens chased after him after breaking up a party and witnessing a drug deal. Kafaru is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole eligibility.”

But police deaths are not as rare on the national level. On Saturday, a criminal suspect killed a 29-year-old St. Louis police officer.

According to data maintained by the FBI, as of Sept. 1 a total of 33 law officers had been reportedly “feloniously killed in 2020.” Skernivitz death brings that to 34.

(Source: FBI)

Not every confrontation leads to death. Most just lead to injuries.

In Georgia, for instance, Richmond County Deputy Keith Inman sustained critical injures after an otherwise “routine” traffic stop this Wednesday became a battle for life and death.

“At 5:55 p.m., members of the RCSO crime suppression team initiated a traffic stop on a white four-door sedan on the corner of Wrightsboro and Augusta West Parkway,” Richmond County Sheriff’s Sgt. William McCarty said of the incident.

“During the course of that stop, the suspect attempted to flee the traffic in the vehicle, unfortunately dragging the deputy through the parking lot. That deputy was eventually thrown to the pavement.”

That deputy wound up suffering critical injuries. The suspect, Kaylon Smith, 29, meanwhile managed to flee, though he was apprehended after an extensive search that reportedly involved helicopters taking to the skies and officers blocking off roads.

***Update*** Suspect is in custody.

BOLO: Kaylon Smith who is wanted for critically injuring a RCSO officer tonight. Please share!

#share

Posted by Richmond County Marshal’s Office on Wednesday, September 2, 2020

 

Vivek Saxena

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