Cleveland police to discipline 75 officers for role in deadly chase
CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath on Friday revealed that 75 of his officers will be disciplined for involvement in the November police chase that ended with two unarmed people shot dead.
The officers played a role in the pursuit, but are not among the 13 who had an active role in the chase's climax -- a volley of 137 bullets that killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams after they led police on a chaotic 23-minute chase.
Of the 75 officers facing discipline for violating police protocol, 19 will be referred to Public Safety Director Martin Flask for disciplinary hearings and could face temporary suspension, McGrath said during a news conference.
McGrath joined Mayor Frank Jackson, who said the city remains committed to being transparent about the investigation and that the officers involved in the chase will be held accountable.
The officers are charged with varying offenses ranging from engaging in a chase without permission to providing false information on duty reports, McGrath said, adding that none of the officers in question face termination.
The fatal chase began when two officers near the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland reported they heard a gunshot come from Russell's passing car.
Russell, with Williams in the passenger seat, fled the scene and led police on a full-tilt pursuit through downtown, Bratenahl and East Cleveland.
"When those officers started their tour of duty that evening, they started it with good intentions, and they had no intentions to get involved in this," McGrath said. "But then things happened...this is a tragedy."
More than 100 of the 277 officers on duty that night had some involvement in the chase, McGrath said.During the press conference, McGrath said 74 officers face discipline. Soon after, the mayor's office contacted The Plain Dealer to say the number is 75.
The actions of the 13 officers who shot to death Russell and Williams are still under investigation, McGrath said.
That review is being conducted by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty.
The department could see changes to policy and training once all investigations are complete, McGrath said.
Police union chief Jeff Folmer, who attended the news conference, said department reform "has to start at the chief's level."
"Let's learn from this, and let's move forward," Follmer said.
75 Cleveland cops to be disciplined for shooting at unarmed couple 137 times (Video)
Is it just my sensitivity to racial discrimination, or do you also think that some of our police officers are on a rampage?
In yet another case of fatal shooting by law enforcement, 75 police officers in Cleveland, Ohio, are finally going to be disciplined for firing more than 137 shots at an unarmed couple on Nov. 29 of last year, killing them.
Of the 75 officers, 19 will reportedly face a variety of charges including engaging in a chase without permission and providing false information on duty reports, according to anAug. 2 report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
According to the Business Insider, none of the officers lost their jobs months after more than 100 officers in 60 police cars engaged in a high-speed chase of 30-year-old Malissa Williams and 43-year-old Timothy Russell.
Widespread protests have not yielded any indictments or firings.
The 25-minute chase that spanned a reported three districts ended in the school parking lot of Heritage Middle School, where Williams and Russell died in a hail of bullets hurdled in their car.
When the gunfight was over, police found that it wasn’t a gunfight after all, for they were the only ones firing. The couple was unarmed and dead, with Williams shot 24 times and Russell 23. Not one police officer was injured.
How could this happen, especially when police from the 5th District were reportedly ordered to terminate the pursuit five minutes before Russell and Williams were killed? Why weren’t the other two districts ordered to stop as well?
According to the officers involved, the couple had fired at them, but that was clearly not the case. The overzealous cops must have heard the Malibu car backfire and hastily concluded it was a gunshot.
The state attorney’s office believed police thought the couple had a gun because of wrong information broadcast over police radio.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine summed up this stunning overkill as being abnormal and a tragedy.
“There was nothing normal about this case,” he said.
These weren’t mass murderers or child abductors they were pursuing, so why the intense heavily armed cavalry?
Reports say Russell may have fled after hitting a police car because he was allegedly high on cocaine and driving with a suspended license. His companion also allegedly had marijuana and cocaine in her system.
Apparently, the Cleveland police department has a history of using excessive force, and police Chief Michael McGrath has a history of looking the other way.
In fact, 13 of the officers already have varied personnel records. When those entrusted to serve and protect the public act lawless, who holds them accountable?
To compound the systemic problem, many of these officers face no indictment. In fact, oftentimes they are given a mere slap on the wrist, which breeds mistrust, lack of respect, fear, animosity and tension between the police and the public, especially the black and brown communities across America.
I knew the instant I saw the headline to this tragedy that the couple shot dead were black, and that is a devastating testament to the society we live in.