END OF WATCH: June 25, 2000
Cleveland Police Department
On Sunday, June 25, 2000, Officer Wayne Leon agreed to work a one-man car to assist A-Platoon due to a lack of manpower. Officer Leon figured this would get him home early in the afternoon, and he could spend the remainder of the day with his family as he often did.
At 11:00 am, Officer Leon radioed in a routine traffic stop at E. 40 St. & Community College. He was unaware the driver, Quisi Bryan had a history of violence involving weapons and was wanted for violating parole. Bryan stopped in a gas station lot and quickly exited his vehicle. As Leon approached, Bryan turned and fired a fatal shot that struck Officer Leon in the side of the face and lodged in his spinal cord, ceasing all functions.
For the next twenty-four hours, Officer Leon was connected to a respirator, allowing family and friends to say good-bye and make arrangements for his organs to be donated.
A statewide manhunt ensued for Bryan, who fled the scene. Bryan was taken into custody without incident later that day by Columbus Police. Quisi Bryan was convicted and is on death row.
Officer Leon will always be remembered and kept alive by looking into the eyes of his children, into the heart of his wife Grace and in the attitude and skills of those officers who had the privilege to work with or to be trained by him.
Wayne often said “You can’t tell me we’re not making a difference out here!” while touring his zone in the Third District, usually the Longwood Estates area. He truly believed he was making a difference on the streets he patrolled, and it only took a short time working with him to believe this was true. Wayne’s attitude toward work was contagious among co-workers. He had a way of making fellow officers perform to best of their ability.
Officer Leon was appointed to Cleveland Police Department in February 1994 and quickly became a well-respected officer. During his six and a half-year career, Wayne received commendations from the community for his dedication. He was also awarded the Medal of Honor for courage and bravery when he was fired upon by a drug suspect whom he arrested in 1998. Officer Leon qualified yearly for the expert pin for marksmanship with his weapon. He was also a physical fitness and sports enthusiast. He received many awards for power-lifting, including a second place medal at Police/Fire Olympics games just weeks before his death.
Officer Leon will always be remembered as an exemplary officer, but what he was as an officer, he was 100 times that as a husband, father and friend. His family was his number-one priority. Wayne would call home each night during his shift to say good night to each of his children Justin, Gabrielle and Nicholas.
Wayne Leon’s name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. Panel 61, W-22.
By: Dan David, C.P.D. 3rd District