Prosecutors believe that serial criminal Derek Stokes had a gun hidden in his boot missed in an initial search when he was arrested in December on an outstanding warrant. He stuffed the gun between the seats before being taken out of the cruiser and subjected to a more rigorous search before being transported to the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland to be booked.
As the entered the garage, Stokes can be seen to twist and contort his body, and Metroparks ranger Chelsea McLellan can be heard asking Stokes what he’s doing. Then things got lethal.
Derek Stokes pretended to soil himself in order to conceal a handgun behind his back in the moments before he got in a shootout with a Metroparks ranger in a garage beneath the Justice Center.
Stokes was shot in the garage and later died. Cuyahoga County prosecutors cleared rangers Chelsea McLellan and Kyle Schultz Monday, saying the shooting was justified.
The prosecutor’s office released two videos Tuesday of the encounter that took place in December during the drive and after Stokes’ arrival at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland.
Stokes was taken there after being arrested during a traffic stop on an outstanding burglary warrant. Officers also found a bag of cocaine and heroin in his car.
The suspect was hand searched before he was handcuffed, the Metroparks Police have said, but managed to conceal the handgun inside a boot.
During the car ride to jail, Stokes told McLellan that he was cold. The ranger obliged and opened the partition that separated the back seat from the front seat.
McLellan chatted causally with her backseat passenger, asking him about a previous robbery charge that led to an arrest warrant, his personal and family life.
“You couldn’t find a better thing to do to make money?” McLellan asked.
“It’s hard man,” Stokes replied. “I actually had a job at Bob Evans before I had some trouble at the halfway house and got fired.”
Stokes can be seen moving the gun from his boot to the backseat, fidgeting to fit the gun behind his back. McLellan at one point asks, “what’s going on back there.”
Stokes replied that he had soiled himself. McLellan told him not to worry.
“We’re pulling in soon,” she said.
Stokes fired twice at McLellan as she bailed from the vehicle, hitting her once in her body armor. The second shot just missed her head.
Fellow ranger Kyle Schultz, who was following McLellan, then joined McLellan in opening fire on the armed suspect as he forced his way through the shot-out window of the Metroparks cruiser and attempted to flee.
The officers fired a total of 47 shots at Stokes. They struck him just three times, with hits to the side and neck eventually killing him.
The shooting was deemed to be justified self-defense.