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 NAACP spoke out about Mayor Frank Jackson and Cleveland Chief of Police Michael McGrath's handling of the deadly police shooting that left a man and woman dead a week ago.
The questions and comments came hard and fast at the NAACP's community forum at the Greater Abbysinia Baptist Church last night.
"All of a sudden we've got this one big, big case that has a very threatening tendency to your leadership, to your mayor's office to the police chief," said one community member. He said he was ready to fight to the end for justice for alleged Cleveland police shooting victims Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
"They were very profound and the mayor and his staff gave as profound an answers as they could," said NAACP President Hilton Smith, "the questions were just excellent."
Reverend Smith said they are pleased with the proactive response from Cleveland's Mayor Frank Jackson and Chief of Police Michael McGrath Thursday night. He said the mayor's words resonated with the NAACP and the community.
"He was very honest. Everything that he said the mayor will do. He will not sugar coat anything. He is the type of mayor that will tell it like it is and he did that last night," said Reverend Smith. "He handled some rough questions with some very direct answers so we're very pleased with that."
He said the chief's ability to be fair is not in question and they believe he's doing all he can behind the shootings.
"The chief is a very popular chief. People throughout this city really care for him and they respect him greatly because, again, he is very proactive," Reverend Smith said.
What is in question for the NAACP, according to Smith, are the findings from the East Cleveland Police Department and BCI investigations.
"That is the reason for not being satisfied because there were questions that the mayor and his folks simply could not answer last night," he said.
There were rumblings that the forum was to pacify the black community, but Smith said those rumors aren't true. Instead, he said the forum gave the community a voice.
"This situation is so critical so crucial to these families so the word 'pacify' is a nonentity here," said Reverend Smith.
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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.
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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.