Sheriff suspends COs from working off-duty at bars after officer's slaying

The sheriff issued the order the same day CO Timoteo "Tim" Cruz died in a shootout at Rookies Sports Bar and Grill

By Adam Ferrise
Advance Ohio Media

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Sheriff Christopher Viland temporarily suspended deputies and corrections officers' ability to work off-duty as security guards at bars after the slaying of a corrections officer at a Parma bar.

Viland, who became county sheriff on March 9, issued the order on Saturday, the same day corrections officer Timoteo "Tim" Cruz died in a shootout at Rookies Sports Bar and Grill. Cruz was working off-duty as a bouncer at the time of the shooting. A bar patron, Sean Michael Acierno, 29, also died in the shooting.

Viland's order also includes temporarily barring deputies and officers from working off-duty security at any establishment — including liquor stores, sports stadiums or grocery stores — with a liquor license, according to an internal email released by the county on Monday.

"This decision will remain in effect until a thorough review of the Sheriff's Department and County policies related to part-time employment have been reviewed," the email says.

Cuyahoga County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan said there is no set timetable for how long the review of the current policies will take.

Adam Chaloupka, an attorney for the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association representing corrections officers and sheriff's deputies, said the union understands Viland's position but that deputies are worried how long the suspension will remain in effect.

"We understand why the sheriff would suspend part-time work for officers working at bars while we figure out what happened [Saturday] and so we can ensure the safety of all of our deputies and officers," Chaloupka said.

Chaloupka said working off-duty at bars is a source of extra income for deputies and officers. He said besides that, bars need trained officers who can respond to deadly situations.

"Obviously, Tim's death is a tragedy, but it sounds like he was there protecting the citizens of Cuyahoga County," Chaloupka said.

Parma police and Viland both praised Cruz's actions, calling them heroic, and said Cruz's actions likely saved lives. Cruz became a corrections officer in 2017.

Parma police Lt. Dan Ciryak said investigators are still searching for details as to what happened. Cruz and other bouncers told two brothers— identified by police as Juan Carlos Perez, 27, and Luis Carlos Candelario, 30 — to leave the bar after a disturbance, Ciryak said.

The brothers walked outside. Acierno appeared to say something to the brothers in the parking lot, Ciryak said, but investigators are unsure what he said. Ciryak said surveillance video from the bar showed the interaction didn't appear to be confrontational.

Ciryak said it appeared both Acierno and Cruz were at the wrong place at the wrong time. The brothers grabbed an AR-15 and opened fire, killing Acierno.

Cruz grabbed his gun and fired back at the brothers, hitting one of them in the leg. Cruz, however, was killed during the gunfight. The brothers sped away and were arrested later in the day on Saturday.

Ciryak said investigators do not believe the shooting had anything to do with Cruz's employment at the jail.

Both brothers are charged with two counts of aggravated murder. A court date has not yet been set.

Carlos Perez was released from prison Oct. 4, 2020, according to state prison records. He and another man, Austin Agee, were sentenced to seven years in prison in connection with an Oct. 7, 2013 robbery. Court records say the two men stabbed the robbery victim several times and that the man survived because of life-saving surgery.

Candelario has one prior felony conviction for possessing a concealed weapon in 2009. He was sentenced to one year on probation.


(c)2021 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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