CLEVELAND, Ohio — A now-fired Cleveland police officer was a known associate of a Norwegian chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle club and trained their members in martial arts, according to investigative files released Monday by the city.
Shawn Simmons, who also went by Shawn Lund, was hired Jan. 24 and suspended from duty on Feb. 7. He was eventually fired.
Simmons had felony convictions in Norway for extortion and aggravated assault. Those convictions, however, were expunged and did not show up on the FBI’s background check, the records say.
Simmons worked as a police officer in Linndale and Put-in-Bay before Cleveland hired him. Attempts to reach Simmons by phone Monday were unsuccessful. Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeff Follmer did not return a message seeking comment.
Simmons denied being a member of the Hells Angels during interviews with Cleveland police internal affairs detectives, records say. He said he was childhood friends with a member of the Hells Angels, that he rented a room to the friend as an adult but has since had only sporadic contact with him.
Cleveland police became aware of his history after the city posted a photo of Simmons next to Mayor Frank Jackson on Facebook while being sworn in as a police officer, the records say.
Mats Bjornstad, a police superintendent with KRIPOS, the National Criminal Investigation Service in Norway, spotted members of the Hells Angels Oslo club comment on the Facebook post, according to the records.
He notified agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Bjornstad in his Jan. 24 email to the ATF said Simmons had felony convictions and that he is “well known to police, for violence and connections to the Hells Angels,” the email said.
He said Simmons trained some of the club’s “crew boys” in martial arts and is an experienced martial artist.
“Not one you want in your ranks, believe me,” Bjornstad wrote.
ATF agents asked Bjornstad for details on the convictions— one for a Nov. 17, 2008 conviction for extortion in which he was sentenced to six months in prison and a 2015 aggravated assault conviction in which he was fined $13,000.
“He has close relations with several members of the Hells Angels MC Oslo, and other well-known criminals in Norway,” Bjornstad wrote. “Some of his buddies in the Hells Angels Oslo did in fact comment on a photo posted by Cleveland police.”
EUROPOL confirmed the conviction, according to the records. The files released by Cleveland had several pages redacted. It is unknown if investigators obtained details of those cases.
Simmons was also once arrested on kidnapping charges, but internal affairs investigators noted no date or case disposition was provided.
The information was relayed to Cleveland police on Feb. 5. Simmons was suspended two days later.
He was fired in June because officials determined he lied on his 2017 police application when he said he was never arrested for a crime, received a criminal citation or summons to appear in criminal court as a defendant.
The letter also noted that his convictions would bar him from legally carrying a weapon under Ohio law.
Simmons during his interviews with internal affairs said he was born in California but moved to Norway when he was eight months old. He lived there until 2015. He worked as a medic, teacher and landlord.
He admitted to a 2008 conviction and said he did not remember his 2015 arrest. He noted the kidnapping charge was dropped.
Simmons said he did not purposefully omit the information on his application, the records say. He said he assumed the application was only asking for arrests in the United States and said his convictions in Norway were expunged from his record.
He said he also did not disclose his convictions to Linndale or Put-in-Bay police. He was Put-In-Bay’s officer of the year in 2017, his personnel file says. He was a part-time officer in both cities.