NewsChannel5 Investigators have learned the City of Cleveland has hired an outside law firm to represent the city and 13 officers named in a federal lawsuit filed by the family members of the victims of the deadly Nov. 2012 police chase and shooting.
CLEVELAND - The Ohio Attorney General's Office says their investigation into the Nov. 29 chase turned deadly shooting shows a "systemic failure" in the Cleveland Police Department.
Mike DeWine detailed the events of that fatal night, saying many police policies were discarded and the system failed everyone.
"We have violations all over the place, a lack of command and control," DeWine explained.
"By failing to provide adequate structure and support, the system failed the officers," he continued. "The number of vehicles involved contributed to crossfire that risked the lives of many, many officers. It's a miracle officers weren't killed."
According to Cleveland police policy, officers are not supposed to join a pursuit without permission from a supervisor. Of the 62 officers involved, 59 of them never asked permission to join the chase, DeWine said.
The investigation also revealed the pursuit lasted 22 minutes, reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, and that suspects Timothy Russell, who was intoxicated and had cocaine in his system, and Malissa Williams, who also had cocaine in her system and was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, never had a weapon.
DeWine's team searched the suspect's vehicle, surrounding areas of the chase along with the chase route. They also used a metal detector and searched for a weapon in storm drains and waterways, but no weapons were ever found.
We also learned that gunshot residue tests "reveal nothing" about whether Russell and Williams had and/or fired guns. It's because the residue found on them and the vehicle "likely" came from police who fired at them from close range.
Audible gunfire from the first shot to the last was 17.8 seconds, DeWine said.
Also detailed during the nearly two-hour news conference was some of the radio traffic that revealed one officer asking for stop sticks but a supervisor saying they didn't have any that worked -- their last pair "broke" three years ago. We also heard that officers who thought Russell's car may have backfired, "failed to radio that belief."
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said friendly-fire "tore up police vehicles." He also called it a miracle that police burials didn't follow the chase.
"What you have just heard is a tragedy. A tragedy for Russell, Williams and their families," DeWine said. "Make no mistake about it, this is also tough for each officer involved."
Many of the officers told investigators they were frightened and legitimately feared for their lives. The temperament at the scene was quiet and somber. After, officers were in a state of shock, looking at each other for injuries and bullet holes.
Officer Michael Brelo, according to his account, climbed onto the trunk and then the top of a patrol car and reloaded his gun, firing 49 rounds. An Iraq war veteran, the officer said he saw "the suspects moving and I could not understand why they are still moving, shooting at us. Even through Iraq, I never fired my weapon. I never have been so afraid in my life."
Normally, the AG's investigation isn't made public and is given to the prosecuting attorney. "But there was nothing normal about this case," DeWine said.
McGinty will now look at the 290-page report and present the findings to a grand jury for possible charges, noting it "will take time" to go through the documents.
DeWine's office posted all of the documents related to this case online, which includes interview transcripts, diagrams and other information gathered during the investigation. Check out the files here: http://on.wews.com/XlTz5z
One year after a high-speed Cleveland police chase, questions remain about how the chase ended with a shootout that left two unarmed people dead.
Family members of the victims of the deadly 2012 Cleveland police chase have filed a lawsuit against the city and several police officers involved.
Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath says he foresees a new policy holding supervisors "more accountable" as a result of his review into the Nov. 29, 2012 police chase.
Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath announced Tuesday the results of disciplinary hearings for officers involved in the Nov. 29, 2012 deadly chase. 63 patrol officers have been suspended.
Turmoil in the Cleveland Police Department has hurt officer morale, invigorated a mayoral campaign and led to frank discussions about race.
NewsChannel5 investigators learned Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath will begin holding disciplinary hearings for officers involved in the Nov. 29 deadly chase Friday.
Disciplinary hearings began on Monday for Cleveland patrol officers facing charges related to the Nov. 29 police chase and shooting.
New details have emerged in the case of two Clevelanders gunned down last year by Cleveland police following a police chase throughout the city.
It was shortly after the Nov. 29 shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams that East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton asked something of his law director and prosecutor.