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Courts and Crime


Cleveland mayor and police chief defend policies in deadly pursuit
Mayor Jackson and Police Chief Michael McGrath say a failure to follow policies, not lack of procedures, may have led to deadly shooting
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR


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Jeff St. Clair
 
Cleveland police chief Michael McGrath says 'systemic failures' within the department were not to blame in the fatal November police chase. But there will be consequences if his department rules that current policies were violated during the pursuit and shooting.
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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Michael McGrath defended Cleveland’s pursuit and use of deadly force policies after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said today that ‘systemic failures’ plagued a deadly police chase last November.

The Attorney General’s investigation of the chase and shooting that killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams on November 29th alleges that a breakdown in communication, chain of command  and protocol put officers in deadly crossfire at the end of the 22-minute pursuit.  Thirteen officers fired 137 shots at Russell and Williams. The Attorney General’s report confirmed that they were unarmed. 

McGrath says his department will continue an investigation, but does not agree the system failed.

Police chief Michael McGrath

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“You have those failures when you do not have any policies and procedures in place; you do not have any training in place. Currently, we have the policies and procedures and training in place to address that.  Now if some officers or supervisors choose not follow our policies and procedures, they’ll be held accountable.”

Mayor Jackson has said repeatedly the city will determine whether individual officers followed use-of-force protocols  or, as he says, strayed ‘outside the box’.

“And if officers are within the box, then they will be protected. If they’re outside the box, then there are consequences.”

Jackson says his department’s internal investigation can proceed  now that the state has issued its report. The Attorney General will forward his findings to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, who will handle any potential criminal charges. The 13 officers involved in the shooting remain on administrative leave.

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