Thursday, December 18, 2008

Officer Johathan Hammons Arrested for Perjury & Filing False Report

A Cleveland police officer has been arrested and charged with perjury and filing a false report in connection with the shooting of one police officer by another last month.

Officer Jonathan Hammons was arrested Wednesday at the Cleveland Police Department, according to court records.

Hammons was released shortly after his arrest and after posting a $5,000 bond.

The arrest came as the result of an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

TBI Public Information Officer Kristin Helm said she could not release additional information this morning because the investigation is continuing.

A separate internal investigation by the Cleveland Police Department has resulted in two officers being suspended and a third resigning.

A fourth officer, Chris Mason, remains on leave because of the gunshot wound to his hand.

According to Cleveland Police Chief Wes Snyder, officers Hammons and Nathan Thomas were suspended Friday, without pay, pending the results of the investigation.

Officer Dennis Hughes has resigned as a result of the incident and retained an attorney, Snyder said.

The incident was first reported as an accidental shooting.

According to initial reports, Mason and Hammons -- who were on duty -- were at the home of Hughes, who was off duty, shortly before midnight on Nov. 30.

The men were looking at a .38 caliber revolver which was possibly for sale, Snyder said the men told him after the shooting.

"During the handling of the firearm," Snyder said on Dec. 1, "it discharged and struck Mason in the hand . His injury is non-life threatening; however, he possibly will have to undergo some surgery."

Snyder said dual investigations, which do not overlap in anyway, are standard procedure when an officer is involved in a shooting.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is looking into whether the officers involved committed any criminal act or violated any laws.

The Cleveland Police Department is conducting an internal investigation to determine whether the officers violated any policies of the police department.

Saying he could not comment on the TBI's investigation into possible criminal acts, Snyder said Thomas' involvement came to investigators' attention through the internal investigation.

The officers involved in the incident, he said, had been on the radar of the department's internal investigators for some time.

However, there had not been enough information before the shooting to proceed with a formal investigation of the men's activities.

So far, Snyder said, the internal investigation is indicating the officers falsely reported how the shooting occurred.

The investigation, which he expects to be completed within a week, also indicates the officers likely violated police department policies.

When an officer is believed to have violated the department's policies, Snyder said, the incident is assigned to an investigator in the department's Criminal Investigation Division.

An investigation, much like a criminal investigation -- except focusing on violation of policy, not violation of laws -- ensues.

During the internal investigation, Snyder said, the investigator reports only to the chief of police.

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