Cleveland Police Chief: Deadly Nov. 2012 chase 'has a place' in new policy

CLEVELAND - Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams held a news conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the city's new chase policy.

NewsChannel5 Investigators broke the story about the new policy Wednesday on Twitter.

Williams said a November 2012 chase that left two people dead influenced how the city crafted its new policy.

"This new policy was put in place to make sure that events like that that led up to that don't happen again in the city," said Williams.

On Nov. 29, 2012, Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, were killed after leading Cleveland police on a 23-minute chase.

"To me, it's a recognition that what they had before was a failure," said Terry Gilbert. Gilbert is representing Timothy Russell's estate in a federal lawsuit.

"They were unarmed, and they didn't deserve to be massacred by so many officers firing bullets indiscriminately into their bodies," said Gilbert.

The new policy says officers can only "initiate a pursuit" when a suspect "flees apprehension for an actual or alleged violent felony" or in cases of OVI,

The policy also prohibits "self-dispatch" which means officers cannot join a chase without a supervisor's permission.

Williams said the policy also designates a controlling supervisor and scene supervisor to direct vehicle pursuits.

"If the community can take one thing from this they should take that the Cleveland Division of Police is committed to making sure we deliver the best possible service to them," he said.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office is currently investigating whether the 13 Cleveland police officers who fired 137 shots into Russell's Chevy Malibu were justified.

The 13 officers were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury earlier last November, according to the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office had no comment on their investigation.

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said the city will conduct its own review of the shooting after the county prosecutor's investigation is finished.

Last October, McGrath announced that of the 104 officers involved in the chase, 63 would be suspended for one to 10 days for excessive speeding, insubordination and failing to get permission to join the pursuit.

The patrol officers are fighting the discipline. City officials said arbitration hearings will be held next spring.

McGrath has placed much of the blame for the incident on a handful of supervisors. In June, he announced that nine supervisors were suspended, two were demoted and one was fired following administrative hearings.

The chase started in downtown Cleveland. A police officer thought he heard a gunshot coming from Russell's car. Investigators later determined the vehicle had backfired.

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