Cleveland Cop Caught Using N-Word in Texts, Gets Slap on the Wrist

Police with Cleveland Sign Behind them at RNC 2016, July 19, 2016.
Police with Cleveland Sign Behind them at RNC 2016, July 19, 2016.
Photo: iStock

A Cleveland police detective, who works in a predominantly black neighborhood, was found to have used the n-word to refer to Ohio State football players, according to an internal police investigation.


For his infraction, Det. John Kraynik, who works in Cleveland’s Fourth District, basically received a slap on the wrist ( reports that he was issued a lesser penalty than a written reprimand) including sensitivity training.

The racist cat got let out of the bag when the CPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs found in text messages from Kraynik during an unrelated investigation. reports:

The investigation into Kraynik, and another Cleveland police officer disciplined for sending a racist text, began as internal affairs looked into accusations that a now-retired police officer sexually assaulted a woman.

Prosecutors told investigators there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against that officer, who resigned during the investigation.

Internal affairs investigators, however, conducted a search warrant on that officer’s phone and found racist texts sent to the officer from both Kraynik and Third District Patrolman Aaron Pettit, the records say.

The Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association filed a federal lawsuit against the police department, saying the city had no right to punish the officers because Kraynik and Pettit weren’t the target of the investigation, that they had sent the text messages on their personal cellphones and that they had a First Amendment right to free speech.

Kraynik reportedly sent the text messages during and after two Ohio State football games in 2016—reportedly calling the Ohio State win the result of “All that ‘nigger flash’,” according to the investigative file.

The next day, after Ohio State prevailed 30-23, Kraynik used another racial slur two other times when saying he hoped that the near-loss would “wake up” the Ohio State players. Pettit responded by saying “Maybe they need to throw some more bananas on the practice field...”

Kraynik also had these lovely words during an Ohio State-Michigan game:

“Fucking niggers can’t play qb,” he texted. At that time, Ohio State’s quarterback, J.T. Barrett, was black, and Michigan’s quarterback for that game, Wilton Speight, was white. And then, 24 minutes later texted: “Fucking niggers!”


Pettit, who resigned, is also accused of using “disparaging remarks when referencing an Arabic male during a potential police action” on April 27, 2017. Internal Affairs investigators also accused him of using force in October in downtown Cleveland, even though it was avoidable.

Oh, and there was this incident, according to

In 2005, Kraynik and then-partner Phillip Habeeb shot 15-year-old Brandon McCloud in September 2005 while searching a house for evidence in the robbery of a pizza delivery driver. The officers claimed McCloud, who was black, moved out of a closet in a small, dark bedroom with a knife in his hand.

McCloud’s death caused considerable consternation in the city’s black community. While a grand jury later cleared Kraynik and Habeeb of criminal wrongdoing and a city review board said the officers followed department policies as they existed at the time, the shooting called into question the bias of city police officers.


CPPA President Jeff Follmer previously told that they did not condone the language Kraynik used but believed the investigation was unfair because Kraynik was off-duty and they were private conversations between two friends who happened to be fellow officers.

To which I say, if a cop was investigating a burglary but found a man snorting meth off of a table, he would still go to jail, no?


The fact is that there are some unabashed racists in an agency that purports to protect and serve. These two “friends and fellow officers” hold the lives and deaths of black citizens in their hands every single day. I cannot believe that someone who so easily uses a racial slur would give any black person the benefit of the doubt ever; the more likely scenario is that the black person would be overpoliced, harassed and possibly harmed.

Remember, this is the same department that shot dead 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The very same one where an officer jumped on top of a car and pumped 137 shots into it, killing the two people in it. (In both cases, the officers received no jail time.)


Although the Department of Justice reached a 2015 agreement with the city to reform the police department for “a pattern or practice of excessive force”—in a majority black city, it is obvious that the rot still remains.


As for Kraynik, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, an African American, handed down the disciplinary sentence. But sadly, neither a black chief nor sensitivity training will stop the putrid rot.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.



BTW, excellent choice of pic to accompany the story, Ms. Helm. Those are exactly what I’d think of when imagining the Platonic ideal of a Cleveland police officer: pasty, chubby, bad posture.