Cleveland Police Union shows support for 13 officers on leave

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association President slammed Cleveland's Police Chief Saturday, speaking-out in support of the 13 officers involved in Thursday night's deadly chase and shooting.

"[In] my eyes, everybody did great. It was a good job on the pursuit, no innocent people got hurt but like I said, I just go back to saying again they could've stopped at any point … I don't understand where the "bad guys" aren't still bad, and now it's the police officers.  It's bull****," a heated Union President, Detective Jeff Follmer, told reporters at a Saturday press conference.

Follmer kept reiterating is how unhappy he is with the remarks Cleveland's Police Chief, Michael McGrath, made towards this investigation in a joint East Cleveland and Cleveland Police press conference held Friday night.

Follmer, joined by a full room of uniformed and non-uniformed police officers, spoke-out Saturday saying they fully support the 13 Cleveland Police Officers and how they handled what Follmer described to be a "rapidly evolving situation." 

In a statement read, Follmer said two officers heard a shot fire from the suspects' vehicle and described that shot as being heard inside Cleveland's Justice Center as well.  He then described a chase where he says it was broadcasted that the passenger of the suspects' vehicle pointed a gun at police and appeared to be reloading.

Officials Friday said 13 officers fired 137 rounds killing 42-year-old Timothy Russell and 30-year-old Malissa Williams, both found to be unarmed Thursday night.

But Saturday, Follmer continued to defend the officers saying they responded the way they were trained.

"The officers involved are experienced and professional police officers.  For anyone who was not there to judge them without knowing all of the facts … or to blame anyone else BUT the two occupants of that car, for their own death, is ignorant and self-serving," read Follmer.

Friday, Cleveland Police Chief reacted to the shooting and said, "It's really with a heavy heart.  I mean, this is really, I can't tell you how much this hurts the Cleveland Division of Police, I mean we work so hard," a premature comment according to Follmer, who responded, "As investigators we have to take a step back.  Okay.  When this is investigation is over, then he can say what he wants to say.  There's no reason to go on camera and say what they said yesterday when they don't know the facts, like these officers that were on scene."

McGrath along with Cleveland Department of Public Safety Director, Martin Flask, promised full cooperation and disclosure as the East Cleveland investigation into the fatal shooting and "use of deadly force" continues.

Follmer, in turn, says he supports the investigation but does not agree with the comments officials chose to make.  Meanwhile, those who knew the victims are speaking out. 

Joyce Boyd, a family friend of 42-year-old Timothy Russell, told NewsChannel5, "Other people could've got hurt, 137 bullets … that's unnecessary for anybody."  Boyd said she knew Russell as a God-fearing man who grew-up with her son.

"I cried all night because these people are like family to me, I love them, " said Boyd, " …to shoot two human beings 137 times, I really think that something really, really needs to be done.  Not just a suspension."

NewsChannel5 spoke to Russell's sister over the phone, who said the family is speaking with lawyers before they comment on what happened Thursday night.

Both victims appear to have criminal records.  Williams' record showed arrests for possession, attempted abduction and rape. 

Follmer said to his knowledge, no weapon has been retrieved.

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