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Courts and Crime

Suit filed against Cleveland police in fatal chase, shooting
Estates of unarmed man and woman killed when police fired more than 100 bullets are suing

Mark Urycki
In The Region:
The estates of two people who were shot and killed by Cleveland police after a chase one year ago today are suing the city and the officers. The families of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams filed suit electronically yesterday in federal court.

The chase through Cleveland streets one year ago involved more than 60 squad cars, and more than 100 officers.When police stopped the car driven by Timothy Russell at a parking lot in East Cleveland, they fired 137 shots at the car, killing Russell and his passenger, Malissa Williams. Russell was shot 23 times and Williams was shot 24 times.

The lawsuit was filed electronically on Thanksgiving Day against Mayor Frank Jackson, Safety Director Martin Flask, Police Chief Michael McGrath and dozens of officers, supervisors and dispatchers. It argues that supervisors failed to control the officers and they used excessive force against two unarmed people. Police have said that Williams was trying to ram their squad cars with his car and that justified the shooting. The chase began when police thought Williams may have fired a shot. The lawsuit says that was only a backfire from his 1979 car.

The suit calls for improved police procedures and unspecified damages on behalf of the families. There was no immediate comment from city officials.

For their roles in the 22-minute chase, the city suspended 63 patrol officers for not following procedures, and a dozen supervisors have been disciplined. One of those supervisors was fired, and two were demoted.

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office is still conducting a criminal investigation of the officers actually invovled in the shootings. 

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