63 cars were involved in chase, not all ended up at crime scene
By JAMES W. WADE III
City officials held a news conference Tuesday morning to give a status update on the administrative aspect of the Nov. 29th chase that ended with police firing 137 shots, killing two people.
Mayor Frank Jackson, Safety Director Martin Flask, and Chief Michael McGrath spoke to the media about where they are with the investigation.
TheCity of Cleveland reported that at least 63 Cleveland Police cars were involved in the pursuit or played some role. Fifty of those cruisers had automated vehicle locators (AVLs).
Thenumber o fCleveland Police personnel,who will be interviewed regarding the pursuit, totals115,as compared to a minimum of 26 officers identified in the hours after the incident.That number could change based on the on going investigation.
The city originally projected that its review would be complete b ythe end of January2013. However,given the amount of evidence,the significant increase in the number of individuals to be interviewed and the ongoing investigation by the State Bureau o fCriminal Investigation,the city’s review will continue.
Itis difficult to determine at this time when the Cleveland Police administrative review will be completed.Regularupdates will be provided as the investigation moves forward and new information is available.
By conducting this review,Mayor Frank Jackson’s goal is to provide the facts of what happened during the pursuit to the community and then work with th ecommunity as a whole to rebuild trust between residents and the police.
The police have obtained video recordings from several sources including 205 St.Clair,RTA, the Cleveland Clinic,CPDdashcam, a convenient store,Social Security administrative offices, Bratenahl Policedashcam, and ODOT.
“You have to understand, not all 63 cars ended up at the scene inEast Clevelandor even involved in the chase. Some was used to block intersections and some simply stop chasing,” said McGrath.
McGrath also shared how membersofthe reviewcommittee drove the pursuitroute four times to viewvehicularand pedestriantraffic,roadconditions,lighting,and other conditionsat thetime of chase.
According to Flask, they plan to interview close to 115 individuals including patrol officers, dispatchers, etc. They will be interviewed as a part of the department’s investigation. Flask said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Investigation has already conducted 91 interviews in the case.
The department’s investigation is in conjunction and in cooperation with BCI, Flask said, but they are separate investigations. Both are continuing.
Jackson said the city does not know what information BCI has with regard to the investigation but everyone is fully cooperating with them. He said BCI has requested copies of the department’s chase and deadly force policies.
Admitting the administrative review has taken longer than they expected, McGrath said the review is about 99 percent complete and the city wants to make sure they do a thorough investigation and he asked that the community be patient while they sort through all the facts.
Thirteen officers shot and killed 43-year-old driver Timothy Russell and his 30-year-old passenger, Malissa Williams, after they led police on a 22 minute chase. It started when a second district officer said a gunshot was fired from their car as they drove passed police headquarters downtown.
The thirteen officers fired 137 shots, striking Russell 23 times and Williams 24 times. To date, police say no gun was found in the suspect’s vehicle. The community and the NAACP have had community meetings showing their frustration in these murders.
The toxicology report issued last week from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office showed cocaine was found in both Russell and Williams’ systems.
Walter Jackson, Malissa Williams’ uncle, said he isn’t surprised by the results of the toxicology. But he said he doesn’t feel the chase and shooting were necessary. “It still doesn’t justify them chasing them and firing 137 shots,” saidJackson.
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