CLEVELAND, Oh. – Police in Cleveland, Ohio, used a bomb disposal robot to conduct a search of a suspicious vehicle during a traffic stop over the weekend, a spokesperson for the city’s police department confirmed on Monday.
“At approximately 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, July 10, a patrol officer observed a burgundy Chevrolet Caprice with a broken tail light traveling north on Carter Road,” Sergeant Phil Cerreta told reporters. “The officer initiated a traffic stop and upon approaching the vehicle, observed an African-American male, whom he believed to be in his early thirties, in the driver’s seat.”
When questioned by the officer as to why he was sweating profusely, thirty-four year-old DeShawn Hamilton allegedly stated that his air conditioning was “broken.” Sergeant Cerreta said the patrol officer then asked Hamilton to step out of the car and place his hands behind his back. “The suspect was placed in the back of a patrol car while the officer contact dispatch to request the assistance of a K-9 unit,” Cerreta said.
However, at the time the department’s K-9 units were working a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Cleveland. Instead, two officers with the SWAT team’s Explosive Disposal Unit arrived on the scene to assist in the vehicle search. “At the time, officers saw no other option but to utilize the bomb robot to conduct the search,” Sergeant Cerreta explained, adding that officers fitted an explosive typically used to destroy suspicious devices on the robot’s extendable arm before positioning it next to Hamilton’s vehicle.
The ensuing explosion emitted a powerful shockwave that temporarily disabled communications equipment inside the officers’ vehicles. Once the smoke settled, police moved in to survey the scene and, in the process, discovered a small amount of marijuana approximately sixty yards from the vehicle’s wreckage. “Officers determined the contraband had come from Mr. Hamilton’s vehicle,” Cerreta said. “Mr. Hamilton was immediately taken into custody and charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.”
The decision by Cleveland police to use the bomb disposal robot comes less than a week after police in Dallas, Texas, used a similar robot to end a tense standoff with a suspect who had allegedly shot and killed five police officers and wounded seven others.