CLEVELAND (AP) — A judge set a $3 million bond on Wednesday for an 18-year-old man accused of fatally shooting of a Cleveland police detective and a police informant during what authorities say was an armed robbery.
It was the first court appearance for David McDaniel Jr. in the slayings of Detective James Skernivitz, 53, and Scott Dingess, 50. They were killed last Thursday night as they sat in Skernivitz’s unmarked car as they prepared for a drug operation.
Skernivitz’s public defender at Wednesday’s hearing in Cleveland Municipal Court asked the judge to consider McDaniel’s lack of a criminal record in setting his bond. McDaniel did not enter a plea.
Two teenaged men, ages 15 and 17, are also facing aggravated murder and other charges in the slayings in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court. Both have pleaded not guilty.
A police statement of facts filed Tuesday with the charges against McDaniel say he and the two juveniles approached Skernivitz’s car, which was parked behind a store, and shot Skernivitz and Dingess during a robbery. McDaniel was arrested Sunday.
A Cleveland police official knowledgeable about some details of the shooting, but who was not authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press that Skernivitz, a 22-year member of the force, was working undercover that night during a drug operation and that Dingess was Skernivitz’s informant.
Skernivitz was among other law enforcement officers who were sworn in a week ago 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 morning at Rocket Mortgage Field House in downtown Cleveland.