Patrol Officer recounts finding missing women

This weekend, Cleveland Police Detective Jennifer Ciaccia spoke with Patrol Officer Anthony Espada to pose the question that everyone is asking…what was it like to discover Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight on Monday, May 6, 2013? In the message below, Officer Espada touches on how it felt to be a part of the moment.

Patrol Officer Espada recount of response to Seymour Ave to discover Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

May 11, 2013.

She gave radio call, she called our car. I responded – go ahead. “Female on line stating Amanda Berry – 10 years.” Acknowledged and asked, “Is she still on the line?” Dispatcher came back, “Still online giving info about captor, Ariel Castro.” We pull up, we see a crowd, like on the porch. We see this girl. She’s like raising her hand, holding a child. I’m looking at my partner – “Is it her?” He said, “I can’t tell.” We were pulling up closer and as soon as we pull up, my partner was driving, so she came up to the driver’s side. He looked up at me and he’s like, “It is her.” Just the emotion from that point that he confirmed it was Amanda was overwhelming.

We figured he might possibly be in the house because she kept pointing at the house. My partner asked if anyone was still inside. She said, “Yes. Gina DeJesus and another girl.” And it was like another bombshell with overwhelming force just hit me. I believe I broadcasted, “Gina might still be in the house.”

We immediately started running towards the house. As we were going up the steps, it was so quiet, like peaceful. Almost as if, I started thinking we are going to clear this top floor and no one’s gonna be there. Then you hear this scuffling – you know something’s going on in this room. I’m looking that way just waiting to see what’s going to happen and it was Michelle. She kinda popped out into to the doorway and paused there for a second. I mean, within moments she came charging at me. She jumped onto me…. She’s like, “You saved us! You saved us!” And I’m holding onto her so tight. And then within a few seconds I see another girl come out of the bedroom. I just look at her. I … you can immediately tell who it is….and I asked her, “What’s your name?” She said, “My name is Georgina DeJesus.” Very overwhelming. I mean it took everything to hold myself together. You know, I have Michelle in my arms…. And then you got Gina coming out. It was like one bombshell after another. That’s when I broadcasted, “2Adam23, we found them! We found them!”

Everybody was in the right place. It couldn’t have gotten any better than that, that day. I don’t feel like a hero. I’m just glad I was there, you know, just making sure they were safe. I feel so happy for them. It is just unbelievable. It goes through my mind every day. I couldn’t imagine the past 10-12 years what they went through. It just keeps playing back, in my mind, you know. I can still picture us just pulling up, seeing Amanda – couldn’t believe it. Her telling us Gina might be in the house – going in the house. I just keep replaying it and replaying it every day since it happened. I’m just glad just to be a part of it, all of the officers there on the scene that day. Everything just went so awesome, and well.

Respect survivors, stop dissemination of misinformation, and join the fight to bring home our missing

A Message from Chief of Police Michael McGrath

May 6, 2013 is now an historic date for our community and the Division of Police. Three survivors of heinous crimes were rescued, and a suspect arrested.

I want to take this opportunity to thank those investigators, detectives, police officers, and community groups who worked to ensure the safe return of Amanda, Gina, and Michelle. Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Division of Police, and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office worked together to investigate every tip, every lead, and every rumor. Working with the families, Community Relations and volunteers, law enforcement officers worked these cases thoroughly throughout these many years.

The events of May 6 were the result of the strength and bravery of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus; the residents of Seymour Avenue who rose to the occasion and assisted with the rescue; and the swift and decisive actions of the Division of Police. I also want to thank those residents who came forward and responded to the cries for help.

The future of Cleveland and the hope of our nation are dependent upon this type of strong bond between local, state, and federal law enforcement and the communities we have sworn to protect. Unfortunately, even in these times when the end results are so amazing, there are those who seek only to belittle Cleveland Police officers and further harm the victims.

As a 40 year law enforcement officer, I am saddened by the actions of those few in our community who have used this miracle as a vehicle for their own self-serving agendas. The disclosure of sensitive information and details of these horrendous crimes only further victimize three young women. The criticism of law enforcement efforts is disheartening. The dissemination of misinformation erodes the critical relationship between law enforcement and community.

The inference of malfeasance by the Division of Police is arbitrary and disingenuous. It is an affront to the efforts of the tremendous men and women of the FBI, the Division of Police, and the Sheriff’s Office who put their heart and soul into their work every day.

After watching the events of the week unfold, I can only surmise that good news does not sell as well as controversial news. It is an unfortunate commentary on our culture which detracts from what is really important: the rescue…AND the future of these brave women.

I revel in the knowledge that the members of law enforcement and our community fought, and ultimately won, one battle to save three women from evil. On behalf of the men and women of the Division of Police, I reaffirm our commitment to protect and serve our citizens from those who are hell-bent on stealing our freedoms. The fight will not end until all of the missing individuals of our community are returned safely.