Charges: 2 Killed Detective, Informant in Robbery Attempt

September 8, 2020 Updated: September 8, 2020

CLEVELAND—Two teenagers were charged Tuesday with fatally shooting a Cleveland police detective and another man during what authorities said was a robbery attempt.

Eighteen-year-old David McDaniel Jr. of Cleveland, was charged with two counts of aggravated murder in Cleveland Municipal Court, records show. A 17-year-old male, who was not identified because of his age, faces aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, and felonious assault charges in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court.

Court records don’t indicate whether McDaniel has an attorney to speak for him.

McDaniel and the 17-year-old are accused of killing Cleveland police detective, 53-year-old James Skernivitz, and 50-year-old Scott Dingess as they sat in Skernivitz’s unmarked police car Thursday night.

A hearse bearing the body of Det. James Skernivitz
A hearse bearing the body of Det. James Skernivitz, passes under an arch made by two Cleveland Division of Fire fire engines, as it proceeds to the funeral home under police escort in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 5, 2020. (Lt. Mike Norman/Cleveland Division of Fire via AP)

A police statement of facts filed with the charges against McDaniel says he and two juveniles approached Skernivitz’s car, which was parked behind a store, and shot Skernivitz and Dingess during an attempted robbery. McDaniel was arrested Sunday.

Skernivitz along with other law enforcement officers were sworn in Aug. 2 as members of the FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force in support of Operation Legend, a Justice Department effort to crack down on violent crime in Cleveland and other cities.

He was also assigned to the Cleveland police gang unit. Authorities have not said whether Skernivitz was working with the federal task force or the gang unit when he was killed.

Skernivitz’s funeral is scheduled for Friday.

By Mark Gillispie