Judge approves settlement in Nov. 2012 police shooting; victims' families will split $3 milllion

CLEVELAND - The City of Cleveland will settle the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families of two people killed during a November 2012 police chase and shooting for $3 million.

The families of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams will each receive $1.5 million.

Cuyahoga County Probate Court Judge Anthony Russo approved the settlement during a hearing Tuesday morning. 

Paul Cristallo, an attorney representing Russell's family, told NewsChannel 5 Investigators the family is glad the city quickly settled the lawsuit.

"There's never enough money to replace a human life. And so it's still a sad situation for them but I know that they're glad the process has taken its course and we're moving on," he said.

The City of Cleveland sent NewsChannel 5 the following statement about the settlement:

“The City settled this case with the plaintiffs to resolve the lawsuit and avoid drawn-out litigation.  The settlement is not an acknowledgement of liability.” - Dan Williams, Media Relations Director

The settlement will be divided between attorney fees and the victims' relatives.

40 percent of each settlement will go towards attorney fees.

Williams' family will divide the settlement between Williams' mother, Martha Williams, and five aunt and uncles. Martha Williams will receive 47.5 percent of the remaining money.

Williams' five aunts and uncles will each receive 10.5 percent.

Russell's family will divide the remaining settlement funds among six family members, including Russell's son.

Timothy Russell Jr. will receive 61 percent of the settlement. The five other relatives will each receive 7.8 percent.

The lawsuit  had claimed Cleveland police officers used excessive force during the incident. 

On Nov. 29, 2012,  Russell and Williams led police on a 23-minute high-speed chase that ended with a shootout in the parking lot of Heritage Middle School in East Cleveland. 13 officers fired 137 shots.

The chase began in downtown Cleveland when a police officer thought gunshots were fired from Russell's car. It was later determined the car backfired. No gun was found in Russell's vehicle.

Six Cleveland police officers face criminal charges related to the incident.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Patrolman Michael Brelo for two counts of voluntary manslaughter. Brelo fired 49 shots into Russell's car, including more than one dozen from the hood of the vehicle, according to court records.

Five supervisors each face two counts of dereliction of duty for their roles in the chase. 

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell has yet to set a trial date.

The officers pleaded not guilty.

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