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Courts and Crime

Investigators looking into need for pursuit and if excess deadly force used in Cleveland police shooting
One suspect hit 2 dozen times

Kevin Niedermier
Courtesy of City of Cleveland
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The Cuyahoga County Coroner has ruled Thursday’s shooting by Cleveland Police a homicide. The coroner’s report says  Malissa Williams was shot 24 times by police from Cleveland and other jurisdictions following last week’s deadly car chase.  Williams, and the car’s driver, Timothy Russell, were both killed after 13 police officers fired nearly 140 shots at the pair. A city, state and possible federal investigation will determine if excessive force was used, and if the pursuit was warranted…. 

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The 22-minute, 100-mile-per-hour pursuit started after Cleveland police say they heard shots coming from Russell’s car and approached the vehicle.  Police say the use of deadly force was warranted because Russell tried to use his car as a weapon, ramming police cruisers. Rusty Goodpastor is executive director of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. He says using a car as a weapon gives police a reason to fire at the vehicle. And, he says state and city rules on police pursuits vary, but all jurisdictions must consider public safety.

“To be aware of the situation and the totality of the circumstances in which the pursuits involved. And if they feel the pursuit becomes too dangerous, then terminating it may become a better option. It depends on the circumstances. I know many agencies, I’m not sure about Cleveland, will have supervisors on the radio to determine those circumstances as well.”

Cleveland police supervisors do participate in decisions on pursuits.  Recordings of radio conversations during the chase include two police officials calling for the pursuit to end.  At this point, it’s unclear if the orders to stop went to all the officers or just the Fifth District officers.                                       
Listener Comments:

Don't police cruisers have video recorders? Couldn't the video be reviewed to see if suspects in fact used vehicle as weapon against officers? If not, what about CCTV outside police headquarters?

Posted by: Mark (Indiana) on December 5, 2012 8:12AM
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