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OH – GUN CRIME – More than 600 guns seized by Cleveland police sit untested, causing delays in prosecuting gun crimes, officials say

More than 600 guns seized by Cleveland police during criminal investigations sit untested because of a dispute between the city and the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office and complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic. The disagreement already led to delays in more than 100 prosecutions of criminal cases. The issue began in late March just as the coronavirus gripped the nation and Ohio. The medical examiner notified Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams March 31 that two technicians went on medical leave because of the virus and that the office could no longer perform the tests. At issue is a disagreement over who is responsible for performing the tests known as an operability test, a test-fire that is used to determine whether a gun seized from a suspect works. The test is necessary to secure an indictment and conviction in a gun-crime case and used to link the gun to other unsolved violent crimes. A contract amended in 2017 calls for the medical examiner to conduct forensic testing on guns for Cleveland police. Medical examiner administrator Hugh Shannon said his office does not consider the operability tests a forensic test. Cleveland police did not make alternative plans to test the guns for four months, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said. Cleveland spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia has not responded to questions about what the department is doing to restart testing. The simple test can be conducted by a police officer or a medical examiner investigator, along with a witness to verify the gun was tested. Forensic analysts compare the bullet casing to others found at shooting scenes — which are entered into a national database, along with the gun’s identification number and other data — to determine if someone used the same weapon in other crimes.  [full article]



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