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Courts and Crime

A dozen Cleveland police supervisors face discipline in deadly chase
Chief McGrath say they demonstrated a lack of leadership; a review of patrol offcers' behavior is still underway

Kevin Niedermier
Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath (at podium) outlines the charges against 12 supervisors following last Novembers deadly police chase. Mayor Frank Jackson and Safety director Martin Flask look on.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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A dozen Cleveland police supervisors face disciplinary charges stemming from last November’s police chase, which has sparked public outrage. It’s the first wave of possible charges following an internal administrative review of the pursuit that ended with two people dying in a hail of gunfire.

NIEDERMIER on the first round of discipline

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A captain, a lieutenant and 10 sergeants have been charged with violating police department policy. They were among 46 supervisors on duty Nov. 29th during the chase that involved dozens of patrol cars. At least one car was traveling 125 mph.

Police Chief Michael McGrath calls it a lack of leadership on the supervisors’ part. But he says the breakdown of control that night is not an indictment of the entire force.

McGrath says most police supervisors still have his confidence
“I have full confidence in this department’s leadership because we deal with deadly force incidents every day. This particular evening, we’ve identified 12 supervisors during this pursuit who didn’t engage and take control the way they should have. I’ll have to look at this further to see why this happened.”

McGrath would not give details about the charges at this time, but he says they are very serious and could result in suspensions and firings.

The violations stem from an administrative review of the chase released last week that indicates a third of the 276 officers on duty that night also failed to follow department policies. Charges against some of those officers are to be announced later.

The chase started when an officer thought he hear a gunshot coming from a car driven by Timothy Russell. Some of the officers involved ignored orders to stop, or failed to report important observations about the suspects to supervisors. The pursuit stretched for 19 miles and ended with the apparently unarmed Russell and passenger Malissa Williams being killed in a shower of nearly 150 bullets. McGrath says the entire incident and review has been hard on everyone.

Incident is hard on entire community
“It’s difficult for the victims who died and their families, for the community and for the police force. But this process is to be fair and transparent and (to) find out what happened and move on.”

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office is pursuing possible criminal charges against the officers and supervisors. An extensive investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s office called the pursuit a "systemic failure" within the department.                                                                                                
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