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Courts and Crime

Scores more Cleveland police officers face discipline in deadly chase
Internal review cites 74 officers with policy violations

Kevin Niedermier
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson (at podium) Police Chief Michael McGrath and Safety Director Martin Flask explain the violations they sayofficers committed during last November's deadly police chase.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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In The Region:

There was more fallout today from last November’s massive Cleveland police chase that left two people dead. An internal review says dozens of officers involved in the pursuit violated department policies.

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There were 277 rank-and-file officers on duty the night of the chase, and 104 of them were part of the nearly half-hour high-speed pursuit that began in downtown Cleveland and wove its way to East Cleveland.

Now, 74 of them are charged with disobeying orders and policies.

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath will conduct disciplinary hearings for 55 of those officers.  He says they could receive discipline ranging from a written reprimand up to a 10-day suspension. McGrath says the other 19 officers face hearings before the city’s safety director because of multiple or more serious violations.

“You could have had an officer out there driving 107 (mph) on a side street. That officer could have been told to terminate the pursuit and didn’t obey the order. Now you have two specifications there, and another specification is that maybe his duty report and what we have on his automatic vehicle locator are different.”

McGrath says the safety director can impose sanctions beyond a 10-day suspension, but at this point, no officers face termination.

Earlier this year, the city fired one police supervisor, demoted two and suspended nine others for their roles in the chase.

The two people who were killed that night were Timothy Russell, 42, and Malissa Williams, 30. Police began the chase when they thought Russell and Williams were shooting at them. Officers cornered the couple in East Cleveland and fired 137 shots. It now appears the police had mistaken the sound of a car backfiring for gunshots.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office is conducting a criminal investigation to determine if excessive use of deadly force was involved. An investigation by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine called the chase a systemic failure of the Cleveland Police Department. Mayor Frank Jackson has rejected that characterization.                                             

Related WKSU Stories

Cleveland's mayor blasts Ohio's AG for police-chase report
Friday, June 14, 2013

Discipline in Cleveland deadly police chase includes firing, demotions
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

State shooting investigation says Cleveland's police failure was 'systemic'
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

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