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 - Cleveland's police chief denies conclusions in the Ohio attorney general's report that found "systemic failures" within the police department contributed to a Nov. 29 chase turned fatal shooting.
"Our two month investigation reveals that we are dealing with a systematic failure in the Cleveland Police Department. Command staff failed, communications failed, the system failed," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
About an hour later at a news conference at Cleveland City Hall, Chief Mike McGrath emphatically denied the findings.
"Systematic, no. There are policies and procedures and training in place."
McGrath said his department's own administrative investigation will now begin into the deadly chase, adding it will determine whether officers involved complied with policies and procedures or not.
McGrath promised if policies were not followed, "somebody will be held accountable."
The chief also insisted that supervisors have access to what is known as "stop sticks" that can be placed on the roadway to puncture tires and slow a chase. DeWine's report quoted police radio transmissions that said when stop sticks were requested, "they were told by a supervisor that's negative. I think our last set broke about three years ago."
McGrath also insisted that officers should have followed policies that move radio chase transmissions to a single channel that can be heard by all officers involved. The Attorney General's report found that some officers failed to switch channels during the chase, leading to confusion and chaos.
On Nov. 29, officers believed a shot was fired at them near the Justice Center which sparked the pursuit that lasted 22 minutes and ended in East Cleveland. The chase involved 62 officers, 137 bullets fired and left Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams dead.
Mike 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.
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