Friday, November 10, 2000

Cop killer should be put to death, jury says

The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — A jury recommended Thursday that a judge sentence a man to death for killing a city police officer.

        The same jurors convicted Quisi Bryan, 30, on Tuesday of aggravated murder for shooting Patrolman Wayne Leon in the face during a traffic stop in June.

        Patrolman Leon, 32, was shot at point-blank range after stop ping Mr. Bryan's car for having altered temporary license plates.

        Mr. Bryan watched impassively as Judge Daniel Gaul of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court read the jury's sentence recommendation.

        The judge, who can reduce the sentence to life in prison, set final sentencing for next Thursday.

        “Justice has been done,” the judge said. “Mr. Bryan, I will see you then.”

        The officer's widow, Grace Leon, sat quietly as the recommendation was read. Later, she hugged family members and police officers who had kept a vigil in the courtroom during the trial.

        Mrs. Leon said the couple's three children still feel their father's presence.

        “He's always watching them,” she said.

        Her brother, Salvatore Scampitilla, said the family was grati fied by the death sentence recommendation.

        Patrolman Leon won't get to see his children grow up and “Grace will still have to go through life without her best friend,” Mr. Scampitilla said.

        Bob Beck, president of the Cleveland police union, said the jury's recommendation would serve notice that “if you take the life of a police officer, you're going to forfeit your life.”

        The jury deliberated less than three hours before deciding Mr. Bryan deserves the death penalty and ignoring his pleas that they spare his life.

        “No matter how hard I try, I will never find the words to express my sense of responsibility,” he said Thursday. “If there was anything I could do to undo what I did, I would certainly do it. If giving up my life would bring back Officer Leon, I would.”


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