Morning Headlines: Browns' Thomas Undecided on Future; Cleveland Officer Fired for Excessive Force

Dec 29, 2017

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, December 29:

  • Teen mall robbers arrested after flagging down officers;
  • Cleveland officer fired for excessive use of force in 2015 fatal shooting;
  • Reporters appeal ban on interviews with 1993 prison rioters;
  • Man indicted in fatal shooting of pizza delivery driver;
  • Cleveland TV reporters robbed at gunpoint;
  • Browns' Joe Thomas still undecided on his future;
  • Ohio State will face USC in Cotton Bowl;
  • Stark County woman to plead guilty in murder of daughter;
  • Cuyahoga County Treasurer will be open Saturday for last-minute filings;

Teen mall robbers arrested after flagging down officers
Akron police say two teens who robbed the J.C. Penney at the Chapel Hill Mall were arrested after they flagged down officers to get out of the cold. Investigators say the teens had the stolen jewelry in their pockets when they asked police at a hospital for help early yesterday. Authorities say the teens had robbed the store late Wednesday night by hiding inside until employees left. They broke into jewelry cases with a hammer. Police say they were carrying knives and an unloaded handgun. The two teens, ages 14 and 16, are facing charges including breaking and entering, theft and criminal trespassing.

Cleveland officer fired for excessive use of force in 2015 fatal shooting
A Cleveland police officer has been fired for violating his department's use-of-force policy despite being acquitted of a misdemeanor charge in the 2015 fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager after a store break-in. City officials say Alan Buford, 50, was fired for using force "greater than necessary during the incident." A judge acquitted Buford of negligent homicide in July. Prosecutors say Buford shouldn't have had his finger on the trigger as he and his partner tried to arrest Brandon Jones, 18, after the break-in. Buford's partner testified at trial that the shooting wasn't necessary. The police union representing Buford says in a statement that the firing was unfair and that it will seek arbitration to have Buford reinstated.

Reporters appeal ban on interviews with 1993 prison rioters
Inmates and reporters have appealed a judge's order that ended a lawsuit over a ban on face-to-face media interviews with prisoners convicted for their roles in Ohio's deadly 1993 prison riot. Federal Judge Edmund Sargus says the state prison system clarified the media policies that were criticized in the 2013 lawsuit by the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The lawsuit said the former system was inconsistent, especially when backgrounds of other high-security prisoners granted access to reporters are reviewed. The 11-day siege left one guard and nine inmates dead.

Man indicted in fatal shooting of pizza delivery driver
Authorities in Cuyahoga County say a man has been indicted on 10 charges including aggravated murder in the 2015 killing of a pizza delivery driver. Prosecutor Michael O'Malley announced the grand jury action on charges against Tyrone Leegrand II in the death of Michael Prock, 41.  Authorities say Prock was making a delivery for Nunzio's Pizza shortly after midnight when the suspect approached his car to rob him. They say Leegrand opened fire as Prock pulled away.  Prock crashed his car and died from the gunshot wound.

Cleveland TV reporters robbed at gunpoint
A TV news crew in Cleveland was robbed at gunpoint Thursday. WOIO-TV reports that it happened to a reporter and photographer. They were not hurt. The station says the pair were approached in the city's Glenville neighborhood by three masked juveniles who took their cellphones and money.

Browns' Joe Thomas still undecided on his future
Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas says he has not yet decided whether to continue playing. Thomas played in just seven games in 2017 before tearing a tricep and undergoing season-ending surgery. Before that, Thomas never missed a snap in his career, a streak of 10,363 consecutive snaps. Thomas says Cleveland's coaching situation will have no bearing on his decision. He remains supportive of Hue Jackson, who takes a 1-30 record over the past two years into Sunday's season finale.

Ohio State will face USC in Cotton Bowl
Ohio State may have been snubbed for this year’s college football playoffs, but it’s still got a pretty big bowl game tonight.  The Buckeyes face USC in the Cotton Bowl in a matchup of conference champions. Ohio State won the first championship in the four-team College Football Playoff three years ago. They are now back at the same stadium where they won that title. The previous seven bowl meetings between the two programs have all been in the Rose Bowl. Both teams in Friday night's game have 11 wins this season.

Stark County woman to plead guilty in murder of daughter
A Jackson Township woman is set to plead guilty Friday in the murder of her 5-year-old daughter. Mingming Chen, 30, and her husband reported their daughter missing in January. Chen eventually told police she killed her daughter and then asked her husband to hide the body in the family’s restaurant. In a news release, the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office said Chen will be sentenced to 22 years in prison and then deported. Chen’s final pretrial hearing is set for Friday morning in Stark County Common Pleas Court. Charges include murder, two counts of child endangerment, and tampering with evidence.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer will be open Saturday for last-minute filings
The Cuyahoga County Treasurer’s Office will be open this weekend for people hoping to pay their property taxes in person before the year’s end. The office on East Ninth Street will open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be closed Sunday and Monday for the New Year holiday. People have until midnight Sunday to make online tax payments.